News Feed Forums Regenerative Agriculture Drainage in a regen system Reply To: Drainage in a regen system

  • John Kempf

    February 8, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Hi George,

    In our region NE Ohio we typically get over 40 inches of rainfall per year, and increasingly we get multiple 3-6 inch rainfall events per year, which was very uncommon 10-15 years ago.

    We also have high clay content soils, usually 55-65% clay.

    Historically, fields were drain tiled 36-48 inches deep, and 40 feet apart.

    About 20 years ago, it became popular to install additional tile halfway in between the 40 foot lines, for only 20 feet apart. None of these have ever been back filled with gravel and have always worked well. We don’t have the high silt levels however. Is it possible the silt might plug the water channels through the soil to get to the tile? I would not expect so, but I don’t know.

    Given the increasing number of severe rainfall events, it has become clear that drainage needs to be improved on our heavy soils. In the last five years, farmers have been installing 2 inch diameter tile, 15-18 inches deep, and 12-15 feet apart.

    I am very, very impressed with what we see so far. With the tile being shallow, they move the surplus water off quickly. However, they leave the water table to come up closer to the surface., where roots can get it easier. There are significant crop improvements over the deep tile.

    Also, I agree with you that high SOM is not the solution. In an ideal world, perhaps, yes. But we live in a world of growing climate vagaries, and we need to develop resilience to adapt to them, not rely on ideal conditions.