The Role of Drainage Depth and Intensity on Hydrology and Nutrient Loss in the Northern Corn-Belt

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Why Are We Concerned About Nutrient Loss and Tile Drainage?

Water management in the crop root-zone is crucial to successful crop growth and production. Irrigation, surface, and subsurface drainage—and other practices—are routinely implemented throughout the world to improve crop productivity and working conditions of the soil. Water management practices also impact the environmental footprint of agricultural systems by affecting the flow of water, nutrients, sediment, and other constituents through field, farms, and watersheds. Water management practices for agriculture in the Midwestern US should be designed with both profitability and the environment in mind. The design of subsurface (tile) drainage systems has traditionally been more a matter of how much drainage one can afford, rather than the aforementioned objectives. The relationship among subsurface drainage design characteristics (depth, spacing, layout), farm profitability, and environmental impact are not well known at the farm scale. Thus, drainage system design may fail to meet one or more of these important objectives. This presentation will examine the effects of subsurface drainage system design criteria on productivity, profitability, and the environment, using the soils and climatic conditions of the northern corn-belt (southern Minnesota).

Check Out These Other Presentations About Tile Drainage

Swine Manure Timing & Subsurface Drainage

Tile Drainage Field Day

Use of Filters in Drainage Control Structures

New Technologies for Drainage Water Management


Gary Sands, University of Minnesota

Dario Canelon, University of Minnesota; Mike Talbot, University of Minnesota


The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.