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080819stackhouse800.jpg Kyle Stackhouse

Summer-time drainage projects begin

We crank up the tile plow to improve production potential in water-logged fields

Though irrigation continues to keep the electric meter spinning, we had a change of pace this week at our farm in northern Indiana. We started drainage projects on some fields we were not able to plant this spring.

It took some time to get equipment around. This year we updated the tractor we pull the tile plow with, so I had to go through all the calibrations and double check to make sure up was up and down was down. The last thing I need is to put some tile in the wrong way!

After adding a little grease, we moved equipment in and were ready to go. Though we had traced the main tile this spring, the flags were hidden in the soybeans. (You see, the beans grew where there was drainage!)

It took a little more time than expected to get dug in, but then work went smoothly. There were quite a few short strings, which meant quite a few connections had to be made. Because some areas of the field had growing crops, it took some extra time as we had to sequence equipment down the tile lines and stay in the same paths.

We did about 8,500 feet in a day and a half, I thought that was pretty respectable.

Working around growing crops

Unfortunately, we had to stop short of completing the job. Areas that are left are more difficult to get to and it just wasn’t worth more crop damage. I also wasn’t sure which path I would have to drive to make grade; I didn’t want to be knocking extra soybeans down to do multiple survey lines. We will have another couple thousand feet to install this fall, but we completed the worst areas and got two-thirds of what was needed done.

Using a 10-foot wide tractor path, I calculated that we would have destroyed two acres of crop had the entire area been planted. In the end we probably only lost an acre of growing crop. Well worth that cost to get a jump on this project. The rest of the projects are on Prevented Plant acres and will have little to no crop damage.

After a couple days of ditching, it was time for a day off. Using the excuse that I had to pick up some stuff in that direction, I was able to get away to a Precision Farming ‘Worm’s eye view’ program. It was good to have a little down time and engage the brain in a different way. Tomorrow we start on the next drainage project which begins with setting a reservoir for a pumping station. That will require an excavator and a 15-foot deep hole.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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