Posted on October 22, 2019 at 7:39 AM by Iowa Corn
Happy Harvest! I’ve heard reports of wet crops and stuck combines, but I have good news. Iowa State University has released a new study detailing the benefits of updating ag drainage systems. Many drainage systems are old and don’t have the capacity to properly drain our soils for today’s crops and climate. ISU professor of agronomy, Michael Castellano said, “We have this enormous infrastructure investment that’s deteriorating and needs to be updated. If we update it the right way, we can benefit crop production and the environment.” This update will improve drainage and crop yields and reduce nitrogen loss by incorporating practices at tile outlets such as wetlands, bioreactors, and saturated buffers. Click here for more information about the study.
This is not a new idea. The Iowa Wetland Landscape Systems Initiative began over a decade ago with five pilot sites that improved drainage and incorporated wetlands to improve yields and a variety of environmental outcomes. Iowa Corn has been working with ISU and the Iowa Department of Agriculture for several years to gather nutrient application data in these five drainage districts to help evaluate the benefits updated drainage including reduced ponding in fields, improved nitrogen use efficiency, and improved water quality.
While you’re considering drainage improvements to deal with wet fields, also consider adding conservation practices (there’s cost share funding available) to get the many benefits of improved yields, water quality, and other conservation improvements.
Two bioreactors under construction to treat an updated tile system in Central Iowa.
Stuart Swanson of Wright County talks about how he manages the nutrients in his soil and other conservation practices he uses on his farm.