Drainage Management Systems
The Transforming Drainage project is capitalizing on the network established during our first year with new research to advance our understanding of drainage water storage systems (e.g. controlled drainage, saturated buffers, and drainage water recycling), foundations for innovative tools, and continued outreach to stakeholders across the Midwest.
Patience is wearing thin in some communities because of water quality problems linked to the loss of crop nutrients from agricultural land and other sources. The city of Des Moines, IA, is moving ahead with a lawsuit against three of the state’s highly agricultural counties that manage drainage districts traced to high concentrations of nitrates in the Raccoon River, a major source of drinking water for the city.
There are concerns about how subsurface impacts water quality, movement and distribution. In the Red River Valley – a region that includes North Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba – landowners, along with local, state and federal government agencies, agricultural businesses and the University of Minnesota, are working together to tackle these concerns.
Tile drainage is accused of increasing downstream peak flows, causing flooding, moving soil and sediment and making it easy for nutrients to move. Imagine a tile drainage system with no surface inlets. Research has shown it does not increase downstream peak flows; flooding is not increased. The existence of tile drainage encourages infiltration, which reduces overland flow. The reduced overland flow reduces the amount of sediment (topsoil) movement. Recent research suggests there is less phosphorus movement through the tile.
The drainage system along the primary runway at Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, IL, was originally clay pipe and perforated corrugated metal pipe. After 50 years, much of the pipe was either leaking severely or had deteriorated to the critical point where replacement was required. Plans called for nearly six miles of large-diameter pipe to be installed, but it had to be done within a strict timeframe, because the runway could be shut down for only a specific time period.
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory for Agriculture & The Environment collaborated to demonstrate and evaluate saturated buffers at field scale to reduce nitrates and phosphorus from subsurface field drainage systems.
What do you get when you put a Michigan dairy farmer and a conservationist in a car for several hours? If the dairy farmer is Blaine Baker, co-owner of Bakerlads Farm in Clayton, and the conservationist is Thomas Van Wagner, technical co-ordinator for the Lenawee Conservation District Center for Excellence Program, you get the initial designs of a livestock reservoir wetland sub-irrigation system.
It’s a short jump to change many drainage systems into drainage subirrigation systems, says Mark Nussbaum, an area engineer at the United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). Add a bioreactor intended to eliminate water pollution and it equals good news for farmers and the environment.
Nitrate loss through tile drainage systems has been a water quality concern in the Midwest for many years. Reducing concentration from current values to a maximum level of 10 mg N L-1 has been adopted as a goal in many nutrient reduction plans.
The importance of good water management is sometimes lost in the busy world of farming. As an Australian Nuffield Scholar, travelling to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada to gain knowledge on ways to reduce waterlogging, I soon realized the importance of looking at multiple ways to combat this issue.
EPA plans to scale back federal protection of waterwaysThe Environmental Protection Agency plans to scale back the number…
Minnesota high school debates needed pond water drainage solutionsUnited South Central (USC), a high school in Wells, Minnesota,…
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture receives NRCS partnership awardThe Natural Resources Conservation Service honored the University of Arkansas…
National LICA Winter Convention
February 25-3, 2019
New Jersey LICA Convention
March 14, 2019
Pennsylvania LICA Convention
March 15-16, 2019
Overholt Drainage School
March 16-20, 2019
LICA National Summer Meeting
July 8-13, 2019