Talking Tile: Ontario farm drainage and how it works

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How does farm drainage work and why is it important for agriculture?

Those are the first two questions we’ll tackle on Talking Tile, a new RealAgriculture video series designed to share insights on Ontario farm drainage. In the months ahead, we’ll look at everything from the impact on yield to how farmers can maintain their drainage systems and how drainage impacts the environment.

On this episode, RealAgriculture agronomist and Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario (LICO) consultant Peter Johnson is joined by drainage contractor Matt Williams from Williams Drainage to lay the groundwork for the series.

The duo kick things off with a discussion of how farmers can use drainage to manage some of the moisture challenges Mother Nature throws at them to better manage surface water, creating healthier soil that lets crops grow better roots to produce higher yields. Managing erosion is also a key component, notes Williams. “By allowing that ground to act like a sponge, it gives the water somewhere to go before it turns into runoff water.” (Story continues after the video.)

Williams also addresses some of misconceptions associated with farm drainage, including what’s leaving the farm in drainage pipes. “That should be the clean groundwater you see coming out the outlet pipe, so that the water on top, which can include all your fertilizers, and everything else for farming practices, can be absorbed through the soil. So the soil is essentially acting like a filter.”

Johnson and Williams also dig into the nuts and bolts of how tile drainage works in the field — from tile placement to how it moves water away from the field as it enters the tile.

Talking Tile is sponsored by the Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario (LICO).

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