Much has been written regarding the benefits associated with properly draining farmland. However, we thought it appropriate to share some of our experiences regarding the economic benefits that we have seen over the years regarding the investment in farm tile. These benefits were certainly on display during the wet growing season we experienced in 2018.
A few of the major benefits that we have seen are as follows:
- Soil Temperatures: More timely increases in soil temperatures in the spring allows for earlier planting of crops, increased growing season, and enhanced crop yields. This increased growing season can also reduce drying costs since the crops are allowed to fully mature and dry in the fields.
- Soil Compaction: Reduced soil compaction due to drier soils better able to withstand heavy farm equipment rolling across the field during the crop year.
- Healthy Root Development and Soil Health: A field properly drained will reduce water in the soil pores that are not required for plant growth thus promoting soil aeration, root health, and microbial activity in the soil. This leads to improved soil health and increased crop yields.
- Environmental Benefits: Properly drained farmland can reduce surface water runoff and soil erosion due to the increased water-holding capacity of the soil thus resulting in potentially lower loss of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus. Improving nutrient use efficiency and minimizing losses has a positive economic and environmental benefit.
- Deep Root Structure: Crop root systems grow to a greater depth due to earlier spring planting and a lower water table. This deeper root system allows the plant to better withstand extended periods of drought and dry weather.
- Consistent Yields: Properly drained farmland can eliminate yield fluctuations throughout the field, thus resulting in more consistent yield performance from one year to the next.
We have found that the yield increases and improved soil health associated with farm drainage tile has a relatively low payback period of just a few years.