Two Reasons to Use Controlled Drainage Technology

September 12, 2012

By Jamie Duininck, Vice President of Sales, Prinsco

Controlled drainage technology has been used in agricultural tiling systems for some time, yet is still widely misunderstood. Controlled drainage generally refers to using water level control structures as a part of your pattern tiled system to hold water back from leaving your field and entering the watershed. There are two important benefits from using this technology.

First, many studies have been done that prove holding water back in the field also holds back nitrates from entering the watershed. In fact, some of these studies have shown an up to 60% reduction in nitrate loss with the implementation of a controlled drainage system. That’s because when water is held back during the growing season, the plant will use up the water and nitrogen in the soil for growth.

Second, holding water back in the soil profile can provide your crops a critical source of hydration when we encounter longer than normal periods without rain, as we did in 2012. Many areas in the northern Midwest were fairly wet in the middle of June, yet those same areas did not receive any rain for at least three to four hot weeks in mid-summer. Unfortunately, most tile lines were releasing all of their water for the first ten days to two weeks of that dry time. If farmers had utilized controlled drainage to close their drainage systems during the summer of 2012, they would have been able to save some desperately needed water and possibly maintain their crop’s health and productivity.

Many proponents of controlled drainage say best practice is to open the systems a month before planting in the spring, then close them up once planting is done. In the fall, open the systems up a month before harvest, then close them again when harvest is complete for the year.

If you’re not utilizing controlled drainage technology, I encourage you to get more information or call Prinsco today!

Categories: Agriculture