The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Farm Journal. It corresponds with the article "Water Management” by Darrell Smith. You can find the article on in the December 2009 issue.
You can use a number of free on-line tools to calculate the cost and returns from improved drainage.
- The Illinois Drainage Guide contains a wealth of information about all types of drainage. It also includes an Economic Analysis Calculator written by University of Illinois agricultural engineer Richard Cooke. You can find the guide at www.wq.uiuc.edu/dg.
- The drainage analysis chapter from the National Corn Handbook is located at www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/NCH/NCH-23.html.
- Springfield Plastics and Prinsco, manufacturers of drainage pipe and related products, both offer cost/return calculators:
Check Before You Drain
Always check with the Natural Resources Conservation Service before you begin a drainage project. Under the Swampbuster provision of the Farm Act, which took effect in 1985, you will lose more federal farm program benefits if you convert wetlands to cropland.
Most farm fields qualify as "prior-converted” land, meaning all wetland characteristics were eliminated before Swampbuster took effect. However, you might have to take measures to avoid affecting drainage of a wetland adjacent to your field.
To read how one Minnesota farmer/drainage contractor plans ahead to avoid wetland problems, go to www.farmjournal.com and search the September, 2008, issue for "Plan Ahead for Smooth Tiling.”