Crop Irrigation and Drainage Systems = Responsible Water Use
Agriculture in Indiana
Agriculture is the largest industry in the state of Indiana, and Indiana is one of the top agricultural states in the nation. Unlike some states, drought isn’t usually a problem as we’ve been blessed with an ample supply of water. However, over-saturation and lack of drainage can be a problem.
Why good drainage is important
Water is good—yes—but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and in agriculture, too much water is a very bad thing. Without adequate soil drainage, water surplus can cause soil erosion, stunted root growth, crop nutrition deficiency, and a decline in crop production. Because of naturally occurring land formation and soil conditions, only about half of Indiana’s cropland is able to utilize natural drainage processes. The other half relies on artificial irrigation and drainage and this is an issue.
How artificial irrigation drainage can benefit your crops
All soil is made up of particles like silt, sand, clay, and decomposed plant matter. Root systems grow in the spaces between the particles. Space between the soil particles is sparse and can become oversaturated if exposed to prolonged periods of excess water, suffocating, and eventually killing the root systems. The purpose of artificial drainage is to give your excess water somewhere to go; making room for air between the soil particles, improving aeration, and allowing oxygen to reach your crop’s roots.
Different kinds of artificial drainage
Two kinds of artificial drainage are commonly used for agriculture in Indiana: surface drainage and subsurface drainage. At Shankster Bros., we specialize in both methods, as most fields require a combination of the two.
Surface drainage is a method used to keep excess water from pooling on the soil’s surface. Techniques used include leveling land, building surface inlets into subsurface drains, and creating ditches and waterways.
Subsurface drainage, on the other hand, most often uses perforated tubes, or “tiles” to drain excess water from the soil. In this method, perforated tubes are buried 2-4 feet below the surface of the soil. When water levels become higher than the depth at which the tubes have been buried, the overflow drains into the tubes and away from your field.
Artificial drainage and the environment
When Indiana was first settled, wetlands made up much of the landscape. This posed an issue for human inhabitants, including vast swarms of mosquitos and dangerous bouts of malaria. Using artificial drainage, most of the original wetlands have been drained away, leaving rich, fertile soil in its place.
Two of the benefits that have come from draining the wetlands are better public health and good crop soil. Even though results have been positive, it’s important that every farmer consider longevity and environmental impact when installing artificial drainage. Installing artificial drainage without considering the long-term health of the surrounding landscape is not only thoughtless, but it’s also irresponsible.
It’s important to maintain a healthy environment for both moral and practical levels. Short-term fixes will not sustain future crops and agriculture—the industry that feeds our families and communities.
Finding a professional to install an artificial water system the right way
We live in a state where abundant water supply is normal, but let’s use it wisely. Responsible irrigation and drainage practices are important for healthy production in agriculture, a healthy environment, and ultimately, a healthy community. Proper setup of crop irrigation and drainage system can help your crops to prosper—but it’s essential you find a professional who will install a crop irrigation and drainage system the right way.
If you’re looking for a soil drainage and agriculture expert, give us a call. We’re happy to lend our expertise on the pros and cons of artificial drainage, soil conditions, responsible farm water use, and anything else to do with your crops. Reach us by phone at (260)-982-7111 or by e-mail at steven(at)shanksterbros(dot)net.