If you've taken drainage for granted, you might want to listen to what Matt Loewe has to say. He manages a large farm in eastern South Dakota. According to the young farm manger, people in that part of the country are just learning what many Hoosiers have known for years – drainage can pay in a big way.
If you've forgotten how important it is, his enthusiasm might cause you to take a second look. He says tile drainage has only become an area of emphasis in his state over the past few years, particularly the last five years.
One thing driving the awareness for the need for tile is the yield monitor, he says. Many Hoosiers have convinced landowners that tile would pay by showing them yield maps. However, not everybody has yield monitors in the cab in Indiana, let alone the capability to produce maps.
"What it did for us was show that you're losing more yield than you think," he notes. "You may have a squishy spot that you run into in the fall while combining," he continues. "Now when you see the yield monitor go down 50 bushels per acre, for example, you know it's an area that is costing you money and that could be fixed."
Maps also show that a wet spots affect an area larger than you might imagine, he notes. He believes maps make good tools to convince people that drainage pays.
Others have speculated that not only installing drainage but also being able to control water flow in drains might be an environmental issue in the future. The possibility of remote control drop structures that could adjust tile flow might be one of the new frontiers for precision farming.