INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 15, 2011, 10:12 PM

Area farmers learn the pros and cons of drain tiling

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - With all the recent flooding and another fight possibly waiting in the wings, farmers are fearful their livelihoods will be under attack. Many are in the battlefield, witnessing firsthand how drain tiles work during a demonstration for Big Iron.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

With all the recent flooding and another fight possibly waiting in the wings, farmers are fearful their livelihoods will be under attack. Many are in the battlefield, witnessing firsthand how drain tiles work during a demonstration for Big Iron. We've been talking about drain tiles for decades, but not until now, are tiles creating such traction.

As Mother Nature may wage another war against us, farmer Aaron Larson is on the front lines.

Aaron Larson – Tower City Farmer: “If the ground is too wet, you can't get in there.”

The Tower City man has been in farming his fields for 15 years, but with as much water and rain as we've had, he finally had to take matters into his own hands. Larson put in drain tiles.

Aaron Larson: “It takes a few years after the tiles are in the ground to see the benefit.”

The perforated pipes are buried in the ground, usually 40 to 80 feet apart. They drop after so many feet. Water then flows to the lowest point in the tile and out into a drainage ditch.

Tom Scherer – NDSU Extension Service: “They only flow after a rainfall event so you got surface runoff that really dominates a lot of the water flow coming off fields.”

Tiling is usually most useful during planting and harvest, all depending on soil moisture. The popular protection isn't without conflict. Once water flows out of the tiling, it can go into the nearest river, creating even more flood fears.

Tom Scherer: “If every farmer had drain tile and it was all flowing at the same rate at the same time, it all got to the same point at the same time, yes it would contribute.”

But supporters argue the amount is minimal. On this 70 acre field, the peak flow is about one cubic foot per second. That compares to a foot of water in a ditch, being five to eight cubic feet per second. For Larson, protecting his territory is worth the risk.

Aaron Larson: “This spring was very wet so we had to switch some of the corn acres into something else or in some fields, we didn't get them planted at all and we with drain tile, we maybe would have been able to seed those fields.”

An estimated 200 thousand acres in Eastern North Dakota has drain tiles. Tiling can cost $700 to $1,000 an acre.

Tags: