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Drainage water management featured at field day

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Written Thursday, August 14, 2008  

Drainage water management, a relatively new technology that can reduce negative water quality impacts of drainage, as well as help maintain or increase crop yields, will be showcased Sept. 2 at the Dirk Fleck Farm in Reynolds, Ind.

“If you’ve ever seen a tile line running in June and wished that you had a way to save some of that water for July and August, then this field day is for you,” said Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service soil and water engineering specialist. “Good drainage is vital to cop production, and much of Indiana’s best cropland depends on tile drainage for high yields.”

This free field day, scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., is designed to demonstrate the impact of drainage water management systems on crop yields, water quality and soil quality. Frankenberger encourages farmers, farm advisors and contractors to come learn more about the technique, in which a water control structure is used to manage the drainage outlet.

The water table must rise above the outlet depth for drainage to occur, she explained. By limiting drainage during the summer and after harvest, the device may help crops use more of the water and limit delivery of nitrate to ditches and streams. It may be lowered in early spring and in the fall to allow drainage before field operations such as planting or harvest.

Participants will visit two research and demonstration farms, where they will learn how to raise and lower boards, measure water levels, use a satellite communication system and plan the location of an outlet.

First Leonard Binstock, executive director of Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition, will begin by explaining the motivation and rationale behind implementing the technology. Next, row crop farmer Dirk Fleck will discuss the new system and how it compares with the old.

Then Eileen Kladivko, Purdue soil physicist, will discuss how this technology affects earthworm populations and soil quality, as well as the amount of water and nitrates flowing from the tile.

Purdue Extension agricultural economist Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer will discuss the effect drainage water management has on yields, presenting data collected with GPS-enabled yield monitors over a span of three years.

Costs associated with implementing and maintaining the practice will be presented by Binstock. Mike Cox, Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservation engineer, will discuss cost sharing and other assistance available from the NRCS. The field day will also include a short discussion about finding a qualified contractor to design, construct and install it.

Certified crop advisors will have the opportunity to earn two Continuing Education Units in the soil and water management area.

The Dirk Fleck Farm is located in Reynolds at 1268 N. 100 W. For questions and more information, contact Greg Bossaer at (219) 984-5115, gbossaer@purdue.edu or Frankenberger at (765) 494-1194, frankenb@purdue.edu . The Drainage Water Management Field Day is sponsored by Purdue Extension and the Agricultural Drainage Water Management Coalition.

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