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Drainage Water Management

In conjunction with the farm drainage and farm tiling systems, Empire is also adept at helping manage the field water levels through Water Level Control Structures.  This system is terrific when combined with an existing or new field drainage systems from Empire Construction.  These control structures are reasonably priced and should be considered for any field with existing tile.


What is DWMWater Level Control

Drainage Water Management (DWM) systems are designed to manage the water levels and discharges from surface and subsurface agricultural drainage systems / field tiling.

With DWM, both water quality improvement and production benefits are possible. Water quality benefits are derived by minimizing unnecessary tile drainage, reducing the amount of nitrate that leaves farm fields.


The Benefits:

  • Reduce nutrient, pathogen, and/or pesticide loading from drainage systems into downstream receiving waters
  • Improve productivity, health, and vigor of plants
  • Reduce oxidation of organic matter in soils
  • Reduce wind erosion or particulate matter (dust) emissions
  • Provide seasonal wildlife habitat



The concept is to manage the amount of drainage through the tiling throughout the year. DWM systems can also retain water in fields that could be used for crop production later in the season.



Water level elevations are adjusted using riser boards. Following is what a farmer might expect for annual operation and maintenance:

  • Remove riser boards to drop the water table levels about 10 days prior to planting and before any spring tillage.
  • During the growing season, stack riser boards to potentially raise the water table high enough to provide capillary water to the crop root zone.
  • Before fall harvest, if needed, remove boards to lower the water table 10 days before fall fieldwork.
  • After harvest, install riser boards to potentially raise the water table up even further — near the ground surface — to hold water and nutrients in the field and soil over winter.


“This system uses existing tile lines in a way that makes them part of the solution and not part of the problem … Drainage Water Management offers valuable options to Iowa landowners” – Allen Gehring, state engineer for NRCS in Iowa

For more detail, see the Purdue extension brochure here: