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.
There continues to be a growing interest in tile drainage in Manitoba, and the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) is working to help determine beneficial management practices for the application of manure on tile-drained lands.
The term “millennials” is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another, however, for purposes of this article we will place millennials as born between 1980 and 2000.
It was a busy and productive first year for the Transforming Drainage research study, according to project manager Ben Reinhart.
Two factors impact demand for drainage more than anything else here in the U.K.: the amount of rainfall and the price of wheat. The phone tends to ring more often after a month or two of rain or steady price increases. I have expressed my puzzlement that short-term events can affect the purchase of such a long-term investment before, but such is life. Rain and commodity prices are out of my control – if I had a method of controlling either, I would not be wading in the mud as a drainage contractor!
For us it is normally a struggle to find good people, and from my conversations with contractors around the world, I think most people in our industry would agree. Often overlooked, but just as important, is the fact that it’s also difficult to hold on to the good employees we already have. Let’s be honest: the work we have to offer involves sweat, mud, more sweat, and more mud. It’s freezing in the winter and hot in the summer and it’s almost guaranteed that at some point you will get sunburnt. It’s not badly paid work, but it’s not jaw-droppingly good either. There are perks and working in the beauty of the gentle, fertile, rolling hills of Warwickshire should not be understated, but it remains, I suspect, an average job.  
The new Clean Water Rule (often called the “waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” rule) went into effect on Aug. 28. Well, partially that is. The much-publicized rule that establishes the formal definition of waters subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act went into effect in 37 states on Aug. 28. Landowners in the other 13 states — which include North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming — are still subject to the old definition of jurisdictional waters.
A University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center study found an estimated 284,000 distracted drivers are involved in serious vehicle accidents every year. One of the contributing factors is cell phone use.
Water quality has been on the minds of lawmakers lately, as governments on both sides of the 49th parallel enact legislation to protect and improve water quality within their respective jurisdictions. If you subscribe to our e-newsletter, you’ve probably seen headlines such as “Minnesota’s water protection methods about to change” and “New rules for drainage projects in Saskatchewan.” (If you aren’t receiving our e-newsletter, you can sign up online.)  
Like many, I’m keenly awaiting the arrival of spring. This winter has been neither particularly snowy nor sodden for us, just a standard British winter, which makes draining land difficult. In the British Isles our weather is mild. We do not suffer from periods of extreme cold or heat and, on the whole, intense weather is something we experience only on the news. What we do have is rain and, in most places, heavy clay soils. These conditions are not good when combined with heavy drainage machines and over wintering crops. Our workload dwindles over the winter and each year we scratch around trying to find work that we can do. To begin with, this reduced pace makes a welcome change from the frantic pressures of the post-harvest rush, but by the time February arrives it is a drag on morale –and on the bank account. While I’m quite busy sending out estimates and drumming up work for next week, the guys are doing bits and pieces and painting our kit, none of which turns a profit. The only answer I can find, (and please correct me if you can) is to be flexible and try to say “Yes” to any opportunity that comes your way. This can lead us to places we have not been to before. That’s what happened to us this winter.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are generating a lot of buzz in the agriculture sector lately. The rapidly evolving technology is giving farmers the ability to understand what’s happening in their fields like never before, and new rules coming down the pipeline on both sides of the border have the potential to open up new opportunities to put these powerful machines to work. Drainage contractors too stand to benefit from adopting UAV technology into their operations.
Faulty workmanship is a risk specialty contractors face with each project they take on. Problems can come from a variety of factors and often take years to arise. For this reason, contractors need insurance coverages built for their unique exposures. To address this need, business insurance carriers are beginning to offer contractors errors and omissions policies, which can protect your company from significant losses.
Did you enjoy your last meal? Do you even remember what you had? In this country many take food very much for granted. But then why wouldn’t we? The grocery stores have an endless supply available, and that is where food comes from, right?
Public opinion can be a force to be reckoned with, especially in the Internet age when our wired world makes it easy for like-minded folks to find each other. Social media helps us connect, discussion forums give us platforms to share our ideas, and special interest websites and blogs help disseminate information and opinions. The Internet gives us the power to exchange information like never before, but there’s a downside to all of this sharing: it’s never been easier to step inside the echo chamber and immerse ourselves in online communities that confirm our beliefs. For those working to educate the public in order to inform opinion, making themselves heard over all the noise in the echo chamber can be a challenge.
The order book is full; we are officially delaying or turning work away for the next couple of months. We simply have no more capacity, there are only so many meters which can be laid per day and just to honor the promises already made we need good weather and to avoid breakdowns. That of course will not happen, but I hope to bend a few promises rather than break them. It’s far from ideal, but with a couple of sympathetic clients and a good dose of honesty from us the odds are in our favor.
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