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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.”
Field tests compare tile inlet designs
University of Illinois Agricultural Engineer Richard Cooke and graduate student Tim Rendall compared the performance of four surface tile inlet designs at the University’s indoor drainage testing facility in Urbana. The following inlets were evaluated for sediment transport and drainage water flow with and without crop debris in the water:
•6-in. Hickenbottom riser
•6-in. funnel-style Quick Drain from Ag Solutions
•6-in. riser-style Quick Drain from Ag Solutions
•6-in. Water Quality Inlet from AgriDrain
Below are some preliminary findings.
The funnel-style Quick Drain from Ag Solutions had the greatest capacity to drain water when there was no crop residue or debris in the drainage water, and when there was heavy debris (wheat trash) in the drainage water.
The Water Quality Inlet from AgriDrain had the lowest drainage capacity, but preliminary results show that the AgriDrain inlet transports much less sediment, says Cooke.
With heavy debris, the drainage capacity of the riser-style Quick Drain from Ag Solutions was about the same as the Hickenbottom riser.
The drainage capacity of the Hickenbottom riser was not significantly affected by the presence of debris.