Drainage Design Workshops

Kris Kohl, Agricultural Engineering Field Specialist, Northwest and Matt Helmers, Faculty, Ag & Biosystems Engineering

Problem Statement:

Producers, land owners, contractors, and agency staff generally are not trained on drainage design principles and need better understanding of drainage project planning, tiling economics, and impact of tiling on water quality.

Programmatic Response:

Five Drainage Design Workshops were delivered in March 2006 across the State of Iowa.   These workshops were held in Lewis, Dows, Storm Lake, Ainsworth, and Oelwein. A total of 213 participants attended these workshops with majority of participants being contractors and land owners. During these workshops, ISU Extension staff provided training on how to plan and design drainage for a site, economics of tiling, long term benefits of tiling, and impact of controlled drainage on water quality. Nitrate nitrogen is a water quality concern that is associated with tile water flow out of cultivated land.  The program reviewed recent research on proper fertilization of corn and soybeans to improve water quality.   ISU Extension collaborated with Jim Hudson Sr., Attorney specializing in Drainage Law, to help participants better understand legal issues involved in tiling projects.


A total of 125 workshop evaluations were received.  Those reporting influenced drainage decisions on approximately 1.32 million acres. Benefit gained from the workshop was reported from some to quite a lot.  Participants indicated an average savings of $0.28 per acre managed and/or operated.  The overall average gain for the five workshops was reported as over $2,900 per participant.

Ninety-two percent of participants completing evaluations found the information presented in the workshop to be useful for their operation. Ninety-seven percent reported that the presenters were prepared and knowledgeable in providing the information. An overall 85 percent indicated that the information presented across all topics in the workshop was good and useful. Thirty-three percent of the participants reported that they will plan and design their own drainage project as a result of todays workshop, where as 17 percent indicated that they will choose a drainage contractor as a result of this training.

Several comments received during the workshops included: I am happy with the information provided.  Lots of food for thought.  And good study material.  Glad I attended, Good overall.  Thanks, Best program of the year!  (I go to a lot!), Very good program Thanks for having it, etc.

October 2006

160 - Natural Resources and Stewardship


Page last updated: October 5, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu