Drainage Design Workshops

Matt Helmers, Faculty, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department; Greg Brenneman, Kapil Arora, and Kris Kohl, Agricultural Engineering Field Specialists


Subsurface drainage has allowed for excellent agricultural production within many areas of Iowa.  However, these systems allow for short-circuiting of some agricultural pollutants, specifically nitrate-nitrogen, to nearby surface water bodies.  Future system design and management as well as in-field nitrogen management and edge-of-field management will need to incorporate not only economic but also the environmental aspects.  There is a need for increased understanding of the drainage design concepts, the economics of drainage, and methods to minimize water quality impacts.


The objective of this program was to increase the understanding of drainage design, of the economic considerations for drainage design, and of the methods that can be used to reduce nitrate export from drainage systems.


Three drainage design workshops were held in February and March 2008 throughout Iowa.  The meetings were held in Fairfield, Jefferson, and Rockwell City.  A total of 102 participants attended these workshops.

Outcome Statement:   

From our 2008 drainage design workshops, the following impacts and comments were reported from post-meeting evaluations.  A total of 44 workshop evaluations were received.  Those reporting influenced drainage decisions on approximately 55,200 acres. Participants indicated an average savings of $0.23 per acre managed and/or operated.  The overall average gain for the three workshops was reported as over $230 per participant.  We received comments such as “very good program.”  An overall 94 percent indicated that the information presented across all topics in the workshop was good and useful. Thirty-six percent of the participants reported that they will plan and design their own drainage project as a result of the workshop, whereas 12 percent indicated that they will choose a drainage contractor as a result of this training. 


160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

Page last updated: September 2, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu