Participants Learn the Art and Science of Farmland Drainage

George Cummins, Extension Field Agronomist, Northeast Area

Kapil Arora, Field Specialist-Ag Engineering, Central Area; Greg Brenneman, Field Specialist-Ag Engineering, Southeast Area; and Matt Helmers, Faculty, Ag & Biosystems Engineering

Problem Statement:

Agricultural farm drainage is becoming increasingly important due to the critical role it plays for Iowas emerging bio-economy.  Drainage systems that are properly designed and operating are essential to achieving excellent agricultural production capability.  People looking to install a new drainage system or retrofit an existing system need to be trained on drainage design concepts, economics of drainage, water management, and legal issues related to drainage. 

Programmatic Response:

Iowa State University Extension, in collaboration with University of Minnesota Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Iowa Drainage District Association, delivered a three-day Iowa Drainage School.  The school trained participants on sub-surface drainage concepts, the design and layout of drainage systems, calculating line sizes and spacing using actual field data, making connections and setting up drainage control structures, and review of NRCS and IDDA regulatory considerations for sub-surface drainage.


Twenty seven participants worked through the hands-on school and 22 complete evaluations were received.  All participants completing evaluations rated the program good or excellent. Over 90% of participants rated different topics covered in the school to be good or excellent for their use.  All participants, when asked what they learned from the school and how they will use it, indicated that the school helped them to better understand drainage design concepts.  Individual topics of learning varied between basics of surveying, creating the topographic map, how to establish elevations and use that information to design a tile line, drainage control device can be used on farm pond, what not to do on connections, etc.  In responding to the question which method of drainage design learned in the school will you adopt in your operation/work, 63% of the participants indicated that they will use drainage slide rules, 32% indicated that they will use computer aided design, and the remaining indicted using design equations and nomographs.  When asked how the knowledge gained in the school will be applied, individual comments included: To better serve customers and build smart systems, Will be helping to design drainage.  Will be better able to work with contractors, Better able to layout system and sell my product and service, The knowledge I learned will help in the drainage design I will use on my own bottom line, make more money, Better communications with drainage contractor and land renters.  Better understanding, etc.


160 - Natural Resources and Stewardship

Page last updated: JApril 11, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,