OSCIA Announces Controlled Tile Drainage Project

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has announced a new partnership through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) program. The project, entitled ‘Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits’, will partner OSCIA with scientists at the University of Ottawa to research the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage.

Controlled tile drainage involves the installation of simple flow control systems at tile drain outlets or designated locations upslope to better manage water flow from fields, says OSCIA.

A newly tiled field. Photo credit: OMAFRA

“The research indicates that there may be economic benefits to farmers under specific field conditions”, says Gord Green, president of OSCIA. “Under drought conditions, research has confirmed as high as a 25% increase in corn yield where controlled drainage was used to retain water to better supply the growing crop.”

A significant amount of research has been undertaken by Agriculture Canada in cooperation with the South Nation Conservation Authority in the Ottawa Valley. Research suggests the benefits from controlled tile drainage vary depending on the crop, amount of rainfall, and timing of rainfall in relation to the stage of crop growth. Under the new partnership, a new tool will be developed to allow extension staff and farmers to better calculate the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage under varying conditions.

Researchers note that the tile flow control is relatively inexpensive to add, and that controlled drainage can reduce the flow of phosphorus and other nutrients to help protect water resources.

The collaborative project runs until the winter of 2018.

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