Installing a good drainage system is one of the most effective methods of increasing farmland productivity. The yield benefits are well documented. But what’s often missing from the conversation is strategic planning.
Too often, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach is taken in drainage design; the wettest fields are the first to be tiled. While that approach may decreases crop damage and boosts yields in the short run, it may not actually be the way to maximize your investment if you’re looking farm wide.
At Element, we’ve learned the best practice is to align water management with precision agronomy, because they are directly related. Our H2Onomy analysis looks at soil, yield, weather, topography and other vital data across your entire operation – and then we help with cost-benefit analysis and recommend precisely where it makes the most sense to invest in drainage tile.
Remember, every planned drainage acre has the potential to help you get the most from every dollar you spend on seed, crop nutrients and crop protection products.
All Element engineering and design projects include the following services:
- Soil Analysis
- Topographic Data Analysis
- Risk Assessment and Drainage Coefficient Determination
- Engineered Plans and Specifications
- Installation Files
North Dakotan Farmer Recognizes Water Challenges in Both Wet and Dry Years
Russ Mauch of RCM Farms – Barney, ND.
Lay of the Land:
Russ Mauch’s farming enterprise has grown considerably through the years. Today, he and his partners — brother-in-law Rick Bladow and nephew Chris — operate and farm RCM Farms, approximately 8,500 acres in the southeastern region of North Dakota. Their operation is a successful agricultural entity, consisting of sugar beets, corn and soybean crops with conventional tillage practices.
Russ prides himself on knowing his operation, from the most productive fields to those needing a cover crop to help boost future yields. He has been farming in southeastern North Dakota for over 40 years, and has a good sense of the land and its potential.
The resource of water is vital to the operation, and Russ knows that both wet and dry years can bring challenges. Crops have been compromised in previous wetter years due to low barring regions holding more water, without a drainage system in place.
In the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s drainage continued to be an issue Russ and his operation faced. The southern Red River Valley saw large amounts of moisture, with years of excess rains that directly impacted the yields and quality of many area crops. With several rebound years with less moisture (drier years) they were able to make up losses and see productivity, however even in dry seasons, one to two inches of rain has resulted in standing water in their fields.
Russ sought out the expertise and experience of Ellingson Company, a longstanding company with a reputation for quality drainage work in the region. With a specific field and heavy rains in 2009, the first initial project with Ellingson was launched.
Russ reached out to Ellingson following harvest in the Fall of 2009 to assess the water drainage issue in his fields, and sought their recommendation for the best approaches to keep water out in order to lower the risk of flooding future crops. With striving to keep productivity at a high, Ellingson provided Russ and his partners an effective strategy to decreasing the water issues they were encountering to the specific fields.
Russ was immediately impresses by the thoroughness Ellingson’s engineers applied to designs and plans for tile placement.
“Ellingson did what was necessary and right for our farm. We received a complete overview of the work which included reasonable deadlines that Ellingson achieved in a timely manner with professionals working on the drainage project from start to finish.”
In all the areas and sections that Ellingson worked with Russ, the investment in a drainage system has provided great returns. The investment with Ellingson resulted in higher yields in fields that in the past had proven less productive due to excess water and damages to the crop. With the pumps and tiling he is able to remove excess water and manage moisture levels in the fields better. Russ also indicated that these fields continue to remain highly productive—in both wet and dry years.
Following this field and drainage solution, Russ utilized Ellingson on several other quarters of his farming operation, installing drain tile an lift pumps to better manage the excess water in his fields.
“The investment with Ellingson and the tiling and pumps has been well worth it. With their engineered plans in place, it takes just a short amount of time now to remove the excess water that can be damaging to a crop resulting in higher yields in fields that in the past had proven less productive.”