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Open tile intakes in Midwest farm fields, “is a practice that should be ended,” says Gary Feyereisen, a USDA drainage expert in Minnesota.
He notes that open tile intakes allow debris, sediment and pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, to enter surface waterways and block underground pipes.
Most farmers would love to get rid of open surface tile intakes, adds Gary Sands, University of Minnesota Extension ag engineer, “provided they can maintain adequate drainage flow. Alternatives to open inlets, such as inlet risers, rock inlets, or intensive tiling, are “a win-win” for both farmers and the environment.”
Gary and Steve Glazik were sick of slogging through standing water in their farm fields to unclog surface tile inlets. Their Paxton, Ill., fields are pocked with low spots where water ponds, and their perforated risers were forever plugging up with residue. “We’d have to go out in hip boots and clean them out,” Gary says.
The Glazik brothers, who grow 6,000 acres of corn and soybeans, also own a plastics injection molding company, so they developed a low-rise, funnel-shaped inlet that’s designed to avoid plugging. The Quick Drain from Ag Solutions has intake slots on the undersides of a 17-in.-high stepped cone. The company also makes a riser-style inlet with underside slots. Water enters the Quick Drain from below, shedding trash as it moves over a lip, “so we don’t get debris stuck in the holes,” Gary says.
There’s more area for water to enter the intake, too, which reduces the sucking force that pulls in debris and sediment, he explains, and underside slots keep spray drift out of the drainage system. “We put them out in all our fields and they worked great. We don’t have the clogging problem anymore.”