Pattern drain tile has never been as common in Mississippi and other parts of the U.S. mid-south as it is in regions to the north.
Darrin Dodds, professor and head of Mississippi State University’s department of plant and soil sciences, would know – originally from Illinois, Dodds tells Drainage Contractor that over the last century, there’s been much emphasis put on surface drainage as opposed to tile, because the Mississippi Delta is, by nature, designed to drain.
But in the last several years, growers have expressed an increased need for tile-based drainage systems. That’s why MSU and the university’s R. R. Foil Plant Science Research Center is particularly excited about a new partnership with drainage and irrigation specialists Advanced Drainage Systems. The company has selected MSU as its mid-south research site for its new water management systems.
The specific system allows for field drainage and subsurface irrigation through pattern drain tile. Dodds, as well as his colleague Jason Kurtz, say they will use the initiative – expected to last three to five years – to study everything from the effects of drainage on soybeans and cotton, return on investment and subsurface water quality.
For the Plant Science Research Centre, Dodds and Kurtz say this is its first real foray into drainage projects – its myriad projects include turf, wheat science, plant path research and much more, but because tile drainage has not been a large focus in the region, this initiative is a big step for MSU. For its part, the institution’s research abilities will be bolstered by the partnership, allowing its scientists to develop new solutions for growers in the region.
Advanced Drainage Systems says its system can increase yields by up to 30% across the Corn Belt and in the Upper Midwest, but that producers need to complete this research to understand how effective it is in the soil conditions of the South.