Drainage Contractor

Editorial: Growing smarter

The industry is going to bold new places – it's important for us to encourage that.

December 29, 2023  By Bree Rody

I grew up in Northeastern Ontario on the Great Clay Belt – in the town of Kapuskasing, to be exact. In its early days, its leaders envisioned “Kap” as a thriving agricultural community. Under the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Act of 1917, the Kapuskasing Soldier Colony was established, with those soldiers given homesteads, grants and loans to stimulate this growing colony. Within only a few years, more than 90 percent of the settlers had fled. One testimony in the resulting enquiry commission read: “There are seven months of snow, two months of rain and the remainder, mosquitos and blackflies.” Seventy years later, during my childhood, it still was not known as a hub for agricultural activity and growth – even hobby gardening was difficult.

However, recent activity in the surrounding regions indicate that would-be growers are finally seeing potential of these wide-open spaces. We’ve always known the land up there is cheap compared to its neighbors to the south, but more are seeing its potential productivity. As such, governments and agencies are responding with funding. The Northern Ontario Heritage fund is providing funding for 50 percent of tile drainage contractor costs to a maximum of $500 per acre and 100 percent of the project management/administration fees of the service provider (calculated at 10 percent of the contractor costs to a max of $100 per acre).

All that said, my hometown isn’t featured in this issue of Drainage Contractor. But I’ve been thinking lately about the growth of drainage – it’s modest, but it’s there. For the 50 years we’ve been publishing Drainage Contractor, a good chunk of our content has focused on the Midwest. And why wouldn’t it? Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, the Dakotas… these are all places known for having a lot of water that needs to be drained from the land. But as the weather, the needs of farmers, the demands of consumers and our understanding of water changes, we are starting to see the craft expand into newer regions: the Midsouth, Western Canada and, yes, my home region. 

Not all agricultural land has the same drainage needs. However, some jurisdictions that were previously thought to never have excessively wet growing seasons have just that. And studies show that land that has its water adequately drained tends to produce better growth than land that is not. Does that mean everyone needs the same system? Absolutely not. But it does mean there lies potential for drainage to make its way into places where it wasn’t previously popular.


And the best part about drainage expanding into newer jurisdictions is that it allows contractors to install smarter systems – whether that’s installing saturated buffers as a standard practice, being able to space and lay tile out more intelligently or adding in controlled drainage system.

Our brand is all about encouraging the growth of the drainage industry – and yes, we mean literal growth, as in expansion of the market. But we also mean growth.

That’s why this year, we’re introducing our first-ever virtual live event: the North American Drainage Conference on March 5 – bringing the best minds in drainage together to provide an experience for contractors unlike any other, with speakers including Eileen Kladivko, Matt Helmers and more.

Although “happy growing” might not be the best send-off for November, the coming “quiet” months are also crucial for growth – just a different kind. – DC

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