How to manage ag drainage water on your farm

How to manage ag drainage water on your farm

Iowa State and other universities are offering a series of webinars on agricultural drainage management.

Agricultural drainage water management and water quality issues associated with ag drainage are the topics of a series of webinars recently developed by a team of Extension specialists from several Upper Midwest universities, including Iowa State University. The webinars will be presented monthly from July through December 2015.

These webinars will provide best management practices for improving drainage water quality and information from multiple states across the Midwest, says Matt Helmers, ISU professor and an Extension ag engineer. The sessions are structured to provide both the perspective of the farmer/practitioner and the research/Extension specialist.  

TUNE-IN: Better ways to manage field drainage water and protect water quality are topics of a series of webinars presented by a team of Extension specialists from Iowa State and other universities. First webinar is July 22.

The six webinars will be held at 9 a.m. Central Time on the following Wednesdays: July 22, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16. Each webinar lasts one hour.

Topics to be presented include:
•landscape-level nutrient reduction
•controlled drainage
•saturated buffers
•sub-irrigation and the economics of drainage

The first webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, July 22, will feature farmer Tim Smith of Eagle Grove, Iowa and soil and water conservation engineer Wayne Anderson, of Minnesota. Both speakers will present information on landscape-level nutrient reduction.

FARMER PERSPECTIVE: Tim Smith, a north-central Iowa farmer who uses a number of soil conservation and water quality protection practices, is one of the featured speakers for the July 22 webinar.

Learn about various nutrient management practices
Tim Smith farms 800 acres near Eagle Grove in north-central Iowa. His crops are evenly split between corn and beans with 35 acres enrolled in CRP. In 2011, Smith became involved with the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative using 550 acres in the Boone River watershed. He uses cover crops, strip tillage, prairie strips, nutrient management practices and a woodchip bioreactor. He has begun doing nitrogen rate and nitrogen source comparisons. In 2012, Tim received an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and, in 2014, a Good Steward Recognition award from the National Corn Growers Association.


Wayne Anderson has worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for 42 years. A registered professional engineer, he initially worked in the feedlot program and supervised the development of nonpoint source control program and watershed management assistance. He has been the state’s coordinating committee member for the National Gulf Hypoxia Task Force since its inception in 1997. Wayne is currently focusing on implementing effective solutions through the state’s clean water programs and serves as a strategy coordinator for Minnesota’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Here’s how to participate in this free webinar series
Target audiences for the webinar series include NRCS employees, Extension personnel, non-government groups, producers, commodity groups, and state agencies in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. EPA and other federal agencies are also encouraged to participate. Those wishing to participate can log in at A wired connection will be most reliable. Each person logging in to the session will need to click the “Enter as a Guest” button.  

This webinar series is a distance learning effort led by Chris Hay of South Dakota State University, Matt Helmers of Iowa State University, Gary Sands of University of Minnesota, Jane Frankenburger of Purdue University, Larry Brown at Ohio State University, Kelly Nelson of the University of Missouri, Tom Scherer of North Dakota State University, Richard Cooke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Gary Letterly with University of Illinois Extension. The webinar series is funded by USDA NRCS as part of the Drainage Water Management Level 2 training.  

For more information and answers to specific questions regarding webinar participation, contact Connie Cannon at ISU at [email protected] or 515-294-1230.

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