Contractor at Work
Good weather means drainage contractors are out in the fields. But as the summer gets warmer, sometimes contractors are working in hot environments for long periods. 
Tiling season is ramping up and some drainage teams are adding seasonal employees to help with peak season.
It’s been 40 years, but the theory hasn’t altered. What has changed is the advancement in drainage technology and a machine’s capacity to install drainage pipe. A new generation of business owners and machine operators bring new ideas, but the fundamentals remain.
Alaska is not likely the first state that comes to mind when thinking about land drainage. While commonplace in the Midwest, agricultural drainage is not a hot topic among Alaska’s drainage industry, but water management is key for the state’s contractors, and for good reason.
Persistent cold, snow and a deeper frost line in the soil is delaying winter, spring tiling activity in the Corn Belt. Joel Sandeno, Agri-Tile Inc., says the work season for tiling farm fields has been shortened this winter and doesn’t look good for spring.
Drainage contractors are completing erosion and sediment control certification training in order to stay up to date with best environmental practices. Here are some key takeaways from a recent training session and more information on the certification.
Installing a blind inlet filters water through layers of soil and rock before it enters the tile system, reducing the amount of nutrients, pesticides, and sediment that can affect water quality.
Continuing education is part of any career – including a drainage contractor’s. Agricultural drainage systems are complex. Contractors must pay attention to local laws, soil types, slope, environmental considerations and size, depth and spacing of tile.
I previously wrote an article about barriers to adoption of innovative drainage practices. Those barriers included risk aversion, practices of adjacent landowners, economics and local conditions.
Drones need no introduction. Stories about drones hover on technology websites and never seem to go out of style. But what value does this former “next big thing” bring to the drainage industry?
Roger and Louise Van Ersvelde are passionate about conservation and land stewardship on their farm east of Brooklyn in Poweshiek County, IA.
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.
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