Each year there’s an area of your field that just doesn’t produce. Rather than a full, mature crop, you get stunted, yellow plants due to too much moisture. Season after season you worry about driving heavy equipment through this section of your property, afraid of burying it in the mud that is sure to be there.
So what are your options? How can you ease this stress and prevent water retention in your field's topsoil?
The solution is simple: drainage tile (often referred to as ag tile).
Ag tile is a type of drainage system that removes excess water from soil. Soil with poor natural drainage can be a nuisance and prevent root development for crops. To combat these water issues, plastic tubing lines (or “tile lines”) many farmers install a network of below-ground pipes that allow the water to move out from between soil particles and into the line. Water enters the tile through small perforations and holes in the plastic tubing and then flows away through tile lines where it is deposited into surface water points—ditches, detention ponds, creeks, and streams—located at a lower elevation than the source.
When considering whether drainage tile is right for your situation, there are many factors to consider including future crops that will be planted in the area and their water needs, the current topography and natural drainage of your field, and the type of soil in the field. Sandier soil contents will require little drainage tile, as the soil cannot retain moisture, while soils with high clay content will need more tile lines placed closer together, as this soil holds water tighter.
Before installation, it is also advised that you check with your local agencies to ensure your plans are in line with county, state, and federal code. Some drainage activities require permits, while others are simply reviewed and either approved or denied.
While tiling can seem like a significant undertaking, there are several benefits for Eastern Iowa farmers including improved crop quality and production, reduced soil evaporation, well-aerated root systems, enhanced productivity, and prevention of harmful salt buildup.
If tiling is something you need in spring 2019, contact the crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating to get on our schedule. We are happy to move the earth for all our local farmers and help you achieve optimal yields for your crops!
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