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Design farm drainage to fit needs

MSU workshop will offer online tools and hands-on exercises, including training in making contour maps with free software.

December 12, 2023

2 Min Read
Black corrugated water drainage pipe in farm field and a tractor in the background
DRAINAGE WORKSHOP: The Drainage Workshop offers a modern and straightforward approach to drainage design. JJ Gouin/Getty Images

University specialists and drainage industry professionals are coming together for the 2024 Drainage Workshop, hosted by Michigan State University Extension in partnership with the Michigan Land Improvement Contractors of America.

The event is scheduled for Feb. 27-29 in East Lansing, Mich. Click here to view the full agenda and register before 11:59 p.m. Feb. 23.

There are many reasons to attend, says Ehsan Ghane of MSU’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

“First, we offer a modern and straightforward approach to drainage design with user-friendly online tools and hands-on exercises,” Ghane says.

“Secondly, we offer training in making contour maps with the free QGIS software and exporting the contours to your GPS design and machine software. We also offer a demonstration of drainage design software and a live demonstration of properly connecting a lateral to a main pipe.”

The drainage design process will include basic design considerations and a step-by-step design procedure. Other topics include:

  • soils and water movement in soils

  • surface drainage (shallow ditches and grassed waterways)

  • subsurface drainage principles and economics

  • selection of pipe style

  • design procedure (a step-by-step guide to design)

  • legal considerations of drainage

  • a drain-spacing tool to maximize profit

  • determining if drain sedimentation is a problem

  • properly sizing the main pipe to avoid drainage underperformance

  • determining if upsizing of the existing main is necessary when splitting lateral spacing

  • determining the original drainage coefficient used to size the main of an existing system

  • installation and safety

  • controlled drainage design

  • conservation drainage: controlled drainage, saturated buffer, blind inlet and shallow drains

  • making contours with QGIS free software and exporting data

  • demonstration of drainage design software

“This event can help farmers and their drainage contractors ensure their drainage plans meet their farm’s needs, not only for water management, but also for crop yield performance and environmental and water quality protection,” says Laura Campbell, Michigan Farm Bureau senior conservation and regulatory relations specialist.

“This workshop provides a lot of in-depth knowledge farmers need to ensure their investment does the best job it can do for their on-farm goals and provides a mix of classroom instruction and live demonstrations to answer everyone’s questions.”


Register early for a 30% discount off the price of $210 by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 1.

The price will be $300 starting Feb. 2. This workshop is limited to 20 participants, and on-site registration will be unavailable on the day of the workshop. The registration fee covers breakfast and lunch.

Source: MSUE

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