Drainage Water Management

Many farmers use artificial drainage ("tile" beneath the ground and "ditch" on the surface) to drain excess water from their fields.

This practice can improve crop yields, but can accelerate the movement of nutrients off farmland, which degrades water quality downstream.

Sand County Foundation partnered with USDA NRCS to install a drainage water management (DWM) system on a Wisconsin grain farm near Campbellsport in 2016. The water control structure allows a farmer to manage the outflow of water from the drainage system throughout the year. It works best on land with a zero to two percent slope.

Other benefits of DWM are:

* Prevents manure leakage through drains

* Reduces pathogen exposure and breaks down pharmaceuticals in the field before reaching surface waters

* Provides seasonal wildlife habitat

* Reduces carbon emission and offers greater resilience to drought and climate variability

For many years we have supported the development of tools that give farmers and ranchers the ability to keep nitrogen and phosphorus on the land and out of surface water.