An Iowa State University Extension meeting for farmers and others who are interested will examine various aspects of farmland drainage on January 30 at Big Ed's Firehouse in New Hampton in northeast Iowa. The program begins 9 a.m. and adjourns at 3:30 p.m. This workshop has been scheduled due to significant interest in this topic.
"We are offering this farmland drainage workshop at New Hampton due to the overwhelming interest in a December workshop we held in north central Iowa regarding farmland drainage and related information and issues," says Kapil Arora, an agricultural engineer with Iowa State University Extension.
The morning session on January 30 will focus on drainage design concepts, economics and the long-term benefits of tiling. The afternoon session will include discussions on drainage maintenance issues, compliance with USDA-NRCS requirements, discussions on controlled drainage, bioreactors and managing drainage water quality with wetlands.
A number of drainage-related topics will be covered by various specialists
Speakers include Iowa State University Extension Ag Engineering Specialist Kapil Arora, ISU Extension Farm Management Specialists Kristen Schulte and Kelvin Leibold, ISU Associate Professor of Ag Engineering Matt Helmers, USDA-NRCS Specialist Bruce Atherton and John Baker, attorney for the Iowa Concern Hotline.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, industry partners and the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service, sponsor the program. Registration information is available online, or call ISU Extension and Outreach in Chickasaw County at 641-394-2174.
"To function most efficiently, all components of a subsurface drainage system should be designed to work together," says Arora. "While the economic benefits of tiling are well recognized, there are also environmental impacts from drainage. We will be discussing new technologies that may be useful in minimizing negative environmental impacts."
Iowa has over 6 million acres of cropland where wetness limits yield
There are more than six million acres of cropland in Iowa where wetness limits productivity. Slightly more than half of the 375 different soils series mapped in Iowa have problems with excess water. The drainage of farmland is obviously important for improving the productivity of Iowa agriculture. Based on the large number of acres susceptible to excessive wetness and the yield response from removing this wetness, farmers and landowners are becoming increasingly interested in drainage.
The two major methods of farmland drainage are surface drainage where standing water is removed using surface ditches and subsurface drainage where excess water is removed through a system of underground drainage tiles. This article and the associated Information File C2-90, Understanding the Economics of Tile Drainage, deal only with subsurface tile drainage. Although artificial drainage can be utilized anywhere in the state, it is most prevalent in the "prairie-pothole" (Des Moines Lobe) region of the Clarion-Nicollet-Webster soil association of central and northern Iowa.