Miles of green, mucky and potentially toxic algae blooms on western Lake Erie — and the oxygen-deprived dead zones in the Great Lake that come with them — have led Ohio to spend more than $3 billion to combat them since 2011. Michigan has chipped in millions of dollars of its own, seeking to dramatically cut a major source of fuel for the algae blooms: fertilizers that run off farmers' fields into tributaries and on to the Great Lake.
Michigan State University, led by Ehsan Ghane, is investigating the effectiveness of controlled drainage in Lenawee County at two on-farm sites with varying soil types. This research will determine the effectiveness of this practice in reducing nutrient load from the field. | READ MORE
Buffer strips are the top water-quality improvement strategy in the South Fork Crow River watershed, according to new draft reports released today by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The agency and local partners are seeking public comments through May 16, 2018, about the buffer strip implementation efforts and other protection and restoration strategies. | READ MORE
Tile drainage may be the best solution to managing saturated soils, but the cost is prohibitive for many producers. However, a low-cost mechanical mole boring temporary tunnels may serve the same purpose. | READ MORE
Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on April 18 explaining the latest research, installation standards and best-management practices for the use of saturated buffers in farm fields. | READ MORE
It's that time of year when algal blooms thrive in Lake Erie, and experts are figuring out how to tackle all the challenges that go along with improving the water. | READ MORE
The Iowa Nutrient Research Center began accepting proposals this week from scientists to address water-quality issues related to nutrient loss from farm fields and land use practices. The center, established in 2013, selects promising proposals every year and provides funding to get them underway. | READ MORE
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets held a public hearing on March 30 to receive feedback on a new set of tile drainage rules currently being drafted by the state agency to try to mitigate runoff. | READ MORE
For many farmers, it was easy to spend money on drainage tile five years ago when profits were rolling in. What about now? As Farm Futures reports, investing in tile may be an even smarter expense these days, as long as it's being installed where it’s needed — and especially with weather extremes playing havoc on spring planting. | READ MORE
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) has responded to the Minnesota Star Tribune columnist who claimed that unregulated drainage is putting the state's wetlands at risk. Warren Formo, executive director of MAWRC, submitted a response to the column on March 26, noting that the state is one of few that have wetland regulations at the state level, and "only after it is determined that there are no wetland impacts, or any unavoidable wetland impacts are being mitigated through the creation of replacement wetlands, is the [drainage] project allowed to proceed."
Pattern tiling – the practice of laying drain tile in positions designed to move water as quickly as possible – is a common, yet unregulated, process in Minnesota, and in the opinion of some, it is hurting the states natural resources. | READ MORE
March 22 is World Water Day. Designated by the United Nations, the day is about focusing attention on the importance of water in our daily lives and on a global scale.
No official background in drainage or excavating stopped the now 37-year-old Bourke Sprague from building his company, Sprague Excavating LLC, based in Union County, KY.
Don Hodgman was lead foreman for a drainage contractor in West Concord when he set out on his own in 1982.
Mark Morreim, president of Morreim Drainage Inc., has always been involved with farming. He was driving tractors by the time he was 12, raised livestock, and eventually started working for a family-owned company that farmed, sold seed corn and had a commercial fertilizer and custom chemical service.
In this time of increasing scrutiny of tile outflow and nutrient loss, there remains a lack of data to make determinations about best management practices in terms of fertilization rates and timing, as well as factors such as natural mineralization rates.
When long-time friends Sid Boeve and Tyler Russell started Bo-Russ Contracting in Manitoba in 2007, it was just a matter of time before installing tile drainage became one of their services.
Digging ditches is in Bart Maxwell’s blood, going back four generations to 1910 when his great-grandfather, Alexander Maxwell, began laying clay field tile and building small bridges around Montgomery County in Indiana with his brother, Silas.
Under overcast September skies, David Wideman of Wideman’s Farm Drainage marked the end of an era, laying what he believes to be the last clay drainage tile to be installed in Canada.
It was an eventful summer for the folks at Bower Tiling Service Inc. Drainage Contractor first introduced readers to the company three years ago, when we profiled the then 112-year-old business in our Spring 2012 issue.
Water: the single most important substance in the world. Water: the most available substance in the world. On the surface of those statements it would seem that all is well; we all know there is a “but” lurking within them.
Traditionally windmills are used to extract water for livestock or irrigation. Not on the Coon Farm.
Take a trip back in time with Luft and Son Farm Drainage, laying field tile in Roosevelt Township, Iowa, circa 1973.
When Fostoria, Ohio, farmer Lanny Boes purchased his first ditch machine 40 years ago, he had no idea it would lead to him starting a drainage contracting company.
There are 950 acres treated by bioreactors and roughly 42,000 acres treated by wetlands across Iowa. In mid-February, Iowa Learning Farms hosted a group of 12 farmers in Ames to discuss these questions and other issues surrounding edge-of-field practices and nutrient reduction.
In parts of northeastern Saskatchewan, excess moisture and high water tables have prevented some growers from seeding certain fields in the Melfort area over the past few years. Water table levels have been monitored in the area since an observation well was installed in 1967, with the highest levels ever recorded in 2014.
There's no doubt tile drainage can boost productivity and profitability. Just don't assume it should look just like the neighbour's system.
As with most things, consulting a professional is probably the best first move.
Management of excess water on agricultural lands, to reduce or prevent detrimental impacts, may be the most serious production problem facing agriculture in the cool, humid region of the United States.
This is the third paper published on the analysis of drain depth and grade data recorded during a field installation of corrugated plastic drain tubing. A 2050 GP model inter-drain double-link drainage plow was equipped with a Trimble RTK-GPS system to automatically control drain depth and grade and steer the drain plow along the drain line path for each subsurface drain planned for the field.
When nitrogen escapes from fields and buffer strips into watershed systems, it’s costly for everyone. New research suggests the installation of saturated buffer strips could offer a viable solution with economic merit for preventing these nitrogen losses.
Few things can make or break a cropping season like flood and drought. These two water-related events are at the core of many drainage and irrigation decisions.
Tile lines in the riverbed of Lake Agassiz may help keep salts in water tables from affecting cropland.
In a recent study, Laura Christianson, assistant professor of water quality in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois, and several colleagues looked at whether they could remove phosphorus in woodchip bioreactors by adding a special "P-filter" designed to trap the fertilizer-derived pollutant. The team tested two types of industrial waste products in the P-filters: acid mine drainage treatment residual (MDR) and steel slag.
We see the impact of phosphorus and nitrogen losses to waterways every summer in bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie. Although other environmental elements and human inputs are factors, the runoff from farmers’ fields has always been viewed as the primary culprit.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists led by Antonio Mallarino, professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, has completed two years of a long-term field study to better understand the impacts of cover crops on nutrient loss with surface runoff.
Timmins, ON farmers are now growing more produce than ever before because of a new funding program that makes their land easier to farm.
If someone told you there was a tried-and-true product available that would consistently increase your crop yields by 29 to 36 per cent, you would probably pay attention. These are the estimated yield benefits for systematic tile drainage in Ontario.
Is it worth spending $1,000 per acre on tile drainage to get a $40 boost in crop production?
Ontario is the only Canadian province that has a licensing program for drainage contractors. By far the most agricultural tile is installed in Ontario, and the program ensures Ontario contractors are highly skilled.
Most growers on farmland northeast of Winnipeg, Man., expect to lose about 20 percent of their acres in a typical wet year, which can happen six years in a row.
I speak for everyone at the Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA) when I wish the industry a happy and successful end to their spring work season. As a drainage contractor myself for nearly 30 years, I know all too well that spring can be a challenging time for anyone in the construction field.
Here in southern Ontario, where Drainage Contractor is based, crop harvest will be complete by the time this issue arrives in your mailbox, and area producers – and drainage contractors – will be reminiscing about what was one of the driest summers on record.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections can be stressful for contractors and are usually conducted without advance notice.
Britain’s looming exit from the European Union may create opportunities to elevate drainage’s profile in the country’s agricultural policies.
Sept. 12, 2016 - For the first time ever, leading food and agriculture supply chain companies and conservation organizations have formed an “end-to-end” partnership to support farmers in the improvement of soil health and water quality. The collective, announced recently at the launch of the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (the Collaborative) — a broad-based effort to support, enhance, and accelerate the use of environmentally preferable agricultural practices already underway in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. As part of this effort, the Collaborative has committed to raising $4 million over five years to help accelerate the Soil Health Partnership, a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Association. With 65 farm sites already a part of the effort, the Soil Health Partnership’s goal is to enroll 100 farms for field-scale testing and measuring management practices that improve soil health. Such practices include growing cover crops, implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till, and using adaptive, innovative, and science-based nutrient management techniques. The Soil Health Partnership’s research is quantifying the economic benefits of these practices, equipping farmers and agronomists with information on how healthy soil benefits both their bottom line and our natural resources. The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative’s founding members include Cargill, Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart, and World Wildlife Fund. “As an agricultural and food company, Cargill sees the MRCC as a way to support and accelerate the adoption of existing conservation programs set up by farmers and work with customers and organizations that share sustainability goals with the ag community,” says David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill. “This collaboration between environmental organizations and some of the world’s largest agriculture-based companies should lead to significantly ramped-up water conservation in the Midwest,” says Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “TNC is eager to use our science and expertise to accelerate solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face in that region, such as improving water quality across the Midwest and addressing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.” The Collaborative plans to initially focus on optimizing soil health practices outcomes, reducing nutrient losses — chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus — into the rivers and streams of the Mississippi River Basin, maximizing water conservation to reduce pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative is committed to working with others — farmer organizations, environmental groups, and state and local watershed partnerships — to achieve the goals outlined in the Gulf Hypoxia Taskforce action plan and respective state nutrient and water loss reduction plans. Those common goals include: By 2025, 75 percent of row crop acres in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska are engaged in the sustainability measures that will result in optimizing field to market Fieldprint analyses and soil health practices outcomes. By 2025, reduce nitrogen loading from Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska by 20 percent as a milestone to meet agreed upon Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force goal of 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus loading. By 2025, 50 percent of all irrigation units used in Nebraska will maximize water conservation to reduce pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer. By 2035, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska have met the 45 percent nutrient loss reduction goal, and partnerships and goals are established to expand the Collaborative across the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The Collaborative will employ four strategies to improve positive environmental and social outcomes in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. These strategies are: Building the business case: build data and engage farmers via the Soil Health Partnership; Sustainable Agriculture Resource Center: provide training and technical support for ag retailers and crop advisors to help scale conservation practices such as fertilizer optimization and cover crop adoption; Policy engagement: plan for and understand drivers and incentives for in-field, edge-of-field, and landscape conservation practices; and, Communications: catalyze change in the region and help consumers understand these efforts by highlighting the innovation of farmers making measurable progress. The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative has partnered with the Keystone Policy Center to facilitate its work.
Agriculture is well known for multi-generational farm operations, with often two generations – and sometimes three – working together.
The year 2015 was the 50th anniversary for the beginning of the corrugated-wall high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic drainage pipe manufacturing industry in the United States. Working for the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Soil and Water Conservation Research Division at Ohio State University, my former colleague Norman R. Fausey and I conducted research to develop new subsurface drainage materials and methods of installation that could potentially be installed faster and at a lower cost than clay and concrete drain tile.
Sentera LLC, a Minneapolis-based supplier of remote sensing and drone technology to the agriculture industry, has added elevation maps to its FieldAgent software platform.
Farmers looking for a method to help reduce nitrate flow from specific fields may want to consider constructing a woodchip bioreactor. The woodchip bioreactors acts as a filter to clean the water as it flows from the tile into the surface water body. The cost is often what is on a producer's mind.
A new drainage system on the edge of Mapleton is described by one expert as the poster child for how new systems should and will have to be designed and built.
In the drainage business, the term "best performance" no longer means moving the greatest volume of dirt. Just the opposite, in fact. In today's world, "best performance" means moving the least amount of dirt to move the greatest volume of water. Moving dirt costs money. The object is to obtain drainage goals without moving extra soil.
When Henry County farmer Todd Verheecke decided to start using cover crops five years ago, his motivation was both economic and environmental.
Bluewater Pipe Inc.has recently announced their latest charitable campaign – and this one is a little different.
Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) has developed the Agricultural Drainage App, a new mobile application for planning agricultural drainage systems, offering automatic calculations for both the proper quantity and type of pipe needed to achieve the drainage required. Free to download, it is now available from the App Store and on Google Play.
A look at some of the newest products this season
DEC.19, 2016—Trimble announced that it has launched a world-first, patent-pending VerticalPoint RTK system for grade control in agriculture. The VerticalPoint RTK system is designed to provide significantly enhanced vertical accuracy and stability of standard single-baseline RTK systems reducing the downtime and costly delays experienced by many agriculture land improvement contractors today. When vertical accuracy inconsistencies occur, agriculture contractors must wait to re-start leveling until the vertical signal is once again accurate, and in some instances even rework portions of the field that were incorrectly leveled before the vertical signal inconsistency was discovered. VerticalPoint RTK significantly reduces vertical design errors in leveling and land forming projects, which occur from inconsistent vertical GPS signals resulting from atmospheric interference. With VerticalPoint RTK, contractors can experience an approximate 25 per cent increase in overall uptime. Currently the industry experiences about 75 per cent uptime; however, with VerticalPoint RTK uptime can increase to approximately 95 per cent. This increase in uptime occurs even in the most challenging environments and at any time of year. “On average during the summer months we may see five to six hours a day where we don’t have the level of vertical GPS accuracy that we need to complete finish passes,” said Jarrett Lawfield, owner of Lawfield Land Grading, a custom land leveling business. “The vertical accuracy capabilities of VerticalPoint RTK allows the whole project—from bulk hauling to finish passes—to be more efficient. The more accurate bulk hauling is, the less work to be done while finishing.” To learn more about the VerticalPoint RTK system, visit: trimble.com/agriculture/verticalpoint-rtk
The Hydroluis drainage pipe system, manufactured in Istanbul, Turkey, is the first anti-root drainage pipe. It is anti-bacterial with sensitive filtration. The pipe saves underground water in drought seasons, and works only when the water table rises above specified levels. The system eliminates the requirement for annual maintenance or internal cleaning, according to a company press release. The pipe shows long-term operating performance and is usable in shallow impermeable grounds. For more information, visit www.hydroluis.com.
Bron has introduced the Double Link 850 (DL850) plow.
June 3, 2015 – Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) has released a new online program for designing and estimating the cost of a storm water system constructed with its StormTech Chambers.
Saturated buffer research focus of webinarIowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on April 18…
Lake Erie Foundation talks improving lake water qualityIt's that time of year when algal blooms thrive in…
Controlled drainage trial happening in MichiganMichigan State University, led by Ehsan Ghane, is investigating the effectiveness…
A low-cost alternative?Tile drainage may be the best solution to managing saturated…
Canada's Farm Progress Show
June 20-22, 2018
National LICA Summer Meeting
July 9-15, 2018
Empire Farm Days
August 7-9, 2018
The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage 2018 Conference
August 12-17, 2018