The Benefits of Tile Drainage

Empire construction and trenching

Benefits Of Subsurface Farm Drainage / Tiling


The article from Don Hofstrand from the ISU extension office, about tile drainage (link here) discusses the economics of tile drainage on the farm.  Mr. Hofstrand covers quite a bit in the article from the pure economics (rate of return, payback period, etc) to types of soil, system layout, investment strategies, and even how to get started.

types of subsurface drainage

Following are the advantages of tile drainage for a farm :

  1.  More consistent yields
  2. Allows for more efficient use of resources
  3. Reduces financial risk
  4. Earlier and more timely planting
  5. Improved harvesting conditions
  6. Less wear and tear on equipment
  7. Less power required for field operations
  8. Better plant stand
  9. Less plant stress
  10. Fewer plant diseases
  11. Less soil compaction
  12. In addition to these benefits above, an investment in tile drainage is that the value of the land increases.

Like most land based investments, tiling is a long-term investment and must be considered over many years in which the land is producing crops.

Empire construction and trenching

Ohio State University have done long term studies that show the following:

  1. For every $1 spent on drainage technology, producers get $3 to $4 back in corn and soybean profits
  2. Twenty-five years of field studies (from 1984 to 2009) at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Hoyvtille showed that subsurface drainage significantly improved corn and soybean yields on poorly drained soils. Add crop rotation and some sort of conservation tillage practice and production just keeps getting better.
  3. “Overall, a farming system that includes subsurface drainage, crop rotation, and no-till, or other conservation tillage system, provides the best long-term economic and environmental benefits for the farmer,” said Randall Reeder, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer.


 Tiling Is Good For Droughts Also

An interesting article from the Cedar Rapids Gazette highlighted the value of a properly drained field even during a drought.

The article can be found here … some highlights are below:

  • Counterintuitive as it may seem, farm fields with the best tile drainage systems generally produced the highest yields during last year’s drought, area farmers and other experts say.

  • Iowa State University Extension field agronomists reported … while it may seem counterproductive to drain subsoil water away from plants in a drought year, “tiling removes only excess water. It does not reduce the amount of plant-available water,”

  • Thorough tiling of formerly undrained land can increase corn yields as much as 50 bushels per acre…