Managing The Water Table With Tile Technology
4 Aug 228 min 49 sec

Drain tile systems have come a long way in the last 20 years. What started as a functional way to drain water off a field has now become a a complete water management system that delivers precision control of the water table in a field. Damian talks with Darla Huff from ADS and Chad Henderson about the high-tech drain tile system he installed this spring.

00:00 Hey talking drainage here at extreme AG which we've done previously if you want to look back at past episodes, but now you get to see 00:06 it in action in the field. I got Darla Huff. She's a director of Agriculture for ads Advanced Drainage Systems. We're 00:12 in Alabama. A lot of drainage projects never happened here as opposed to say the Midwest where I'm from where it's pretty common we did tile drainage going way back to Clay pieces 00:21 of tile. This is Chad being a Pioneer in this space. And this is one of the areas where they drained 40 acres and we have a lift station, which we're gonna get 00:30 into so Darla and Chad first off. What am I looking at here where we are right now? We're at where the mouth is and the fingers go out there and drain off this 40 acres, 00:39 right? Yes. It's exactly right. So we're down here. We got it the bottom age of the farm if you will, you know with you know with all the obviously still works 00:48 on great the same situation. So we get to where we want to lift the lift the water from our problem here on a couple Farms that we tiled and we did 00:57 telling I mean we did telling but it was Line here one line. That's not Thailand. Just just to you know, fix the bottom fix a spot fix one 01:05 acre. We've not done anything that's nowhere near pattern tiling. And so we come in with these two spots we 01:11 have but this one particular is around 48 acres and and we got it on grade to this pot where we want to lift the water out of that was our problem. Everything is level in 01:20 this area. And so the water was holding and we're lifting the water out. So right below is here the we're probably about eight foot below where our feet 01:29 are is the water table on where the pipes coming in and then it lifts it out dumps in the ditch puts it right into puts it right in the woods for the Wildlife or 01:38 whatever. All right. So that's the one question I was gonna have is you know, I would think you just would head and and go out here 01:44 I'm seeing slope Darla. Why can't we just put in drainage tile and then run down here and then release it into this little spot 01:50 in the woods. Why does not work good question something back up for just a minute from a design perspective. 01:55 You know a contract is gonna come in and they're going to design the field based off of float based off of gray based off of the 02:01 direction of the water is Flowing you mean we don't just eyeball like I just did that is what Chad was describing as 02:07 fixing it with one line of time. I don't like to use a term drainage. I like to use a term Water Management because people when you think of a drainage you think of a shower you're throwing things away, whereas in 02:16 your managing your water, which I noticed when I came to the South to do these projects you say water table and a lot of guys in the South don't really reference or 02:25 water table because they're either they either don't have enough water or they have too much of it. Right? And so this helps them manage whatever 02:31 water is coming on to their Farm understood. So a tile system is going to it doesn't starve the plant of it doesn't just pull water off. What it 02:40 does is it takes all the excess water that the plant doesn't need and it takes it away. So the idea is a soil will hold the water. 02:49 It's capable of holding until it can't and then it floods to the top. There was a misnomer or maybe even a misconception misperception use the Miss word that 02:58 you over want that you put in drainage tile. It's going to make my feel like the Sahara Desert and you're saying 03:04 no because the soil holds the water and the plant will drink all it needs. Okay, so child drainage even helps 03:12 in a drought and that that catches people off guard because you know roots are always going to travel gonna search for water. Right? 03:18 So the tiling helps your root structure go down versus out. So it really gives the base of that plant a lot more strength. We talk a lot and at least 03:27 my part of the world where maybe you have that really moist June May in June where you 03:33 get your crop planted and it rains every four days and then there'll be that discussion to your point. Hey, I'm worried when 03:39 we dry out come July August. We ain't gonna have any root structure because those roots never had to go and seek water. It just keep 03:45 going sideways and then we get the dry and then all of a sudden there's no moisture up there to your point. Are you seeing this happen? Do you think your roots went deeper Chad 03:54 then wider because they actually went searching for water based on you putting drainage style in this field I'm saying, yeah, but drainage town on this video and the parts that I needed to be drained, you 04:03 know, we're gonna do some root Geeks later. Own and we're gonna try to show that but the parts I need to drink I didn't have roots on it. 04:11 So so anything is a plus, you know, so I mean we couldn't get it we could come in here on select acreage out here and we could plant something in in June 04:20 the last of May first of June, but we could never planted on time. We could never planted the same. Well on both the Farms 04:26 we tiled we was able to plant the whole farm at the same time. We've never done that and so that's you know, that's the new I mean, 04:32 that's the best thing we've done is being able to park planet on the same time. Yeah, so it used to be a field. I 04:38 guess we did a 48 acre project. There'd be eight of it that never got planted because or got planted a month late. Yeah. That's that's right. We did 48 project in and I would say and 04:47 the problem is Damian with the eight. It was in like four patches, you know, you had three or four five here, you know 04:53 what I'm saying? And so we had spots all over that we couldn't get drain use turning around on it. And even this whole field up. All right before we get into this Darla 05:02 because you've got a lift station you want to demonstrate for us and tell us how that whole thing works is pretty fast thing some cool technology, but I'm gonna 05:08 ask the question. I know our skeptical viewer and listeners asking Sells right now, like wait a minute. I've been watching these videos with 05:14 Chad Henderson. He's using irrigation on some of his Acres. I wonder if this is one of his irrigated fields to which I'm going to say you're irrigating 05:23 it and then you're also draining it. Why don't you just do neither and just be right there to happy medium. Both of the towel 05:29 fields that we have our irrigated Fields. So I think the irrigation system this one right here. It's sprays on it. The other one it goes across it darling why have the irrigation and 05:38 the drainage that's where that water table comes in you're managing the water table. So for example, we irrigate a field you want 05:44 to water you want your water table to be at a certain level all the time for the root system of the plant that you have. 05:50 We drain off any excess water and this thing turns off. It's at a level where it turns off because we know where we want this water to stop. So once it hits the water table, it stops draining. Okay. So 05:59 the point is we can control water exactly. It's about water control not just riding a water or dumping of water. Exactly. All right, 06:08 and so we're controlling this too within an inch. Oh, yeah, just the water inches and your soil profile in the profile. I like that. So all 06:17 the sudden you can say, I want my water level to be at 26 inches or whatever. It is 21 inches 19 inches. Where 06:23 do you want to be? I mean, you know, it's gonna take us a learning curve to figure out where we want it at what time of year we want it right? You know, I mean 06:29 who says like you said that I won't turn this thing on with my corns out here teslie, you know, it stays in automatic. But all I do is fluctuate where 06:35 the water depth is when I start planting I'll have this thing down where it's choking pretty good trying to dry this thing out but then as my crop get started as I get the 06:44 crop growing I want to start bringing this thing up slowly and start slowing this thing down to bring in the water table background. He's 06:50 going to talk about this. Let's talk about the actual technology because pre recording it was 06:56 brought up that then the old days you always just thought I'm just gonna go out there and throw this piece of flat perforated plastic in the ground 07:02 and then dump it out the nearest Creek that's called drainage and you're saying no it's water management. And this is more technology than 07:08 just throwing a piece of plastic pipe in the ground clearly, right? It allows You to keep the water you want and get rid of the water 07:14 that you don't. Okay, and when I say get rid of there are many ways to do that. Some people have a holding Pond and then they utilize that 07:20 water that they've taken off of their field and they water recycle it they they put that will pull that irrigation that depending 07:26 on their field from the water that they just pulled off the field. So it all stays in the same spot. So as we could we could almost have a greenhouse effect. 07:32 There could be at some point two acre holding Lake here that then we pump the water in there and if when Chad needs that water he might yank from it again. Absolutely this system could help us do 07:41 that. Absolutely. That's not what we're doing. It could be done. So what we doing is we brought the power from the irrigation system. We already 07:47 had three phase power on irrigation system. So we're dual purposing. I guess you would about right we promoted across 07:53 the field. We plumbed it into this station. So when we're not using the pivots or even at the same time simultaneously we're we 07:59 could be pumping and using irrigation. That's the same time. This thing will be on and off and once it was set up. We haven't really touched it all. Okay, so we haven't touched up. All we 08:08 do is learn what our parameters are, but we still don't know. Learning in the field with a parameters are understanding your 08:14 sole profile and what the water needs to do within that for that plant. You know, it's so important. That's what he's learning is 08:20 how to where did you want to control these levels for this this particular field, right? And so which will take us to the next phase 08:26 of soil moisture probe. You're gonna be talking about that in the future episode, but for right now, it's hotter than all. Holy hell 08:32 out here. So, you know what? I'm glad there's things kicking on. It's about to kick on let's go get cool off. That's right.

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