This month’s newsletter starts off on a somber note as Paul Sweeney passed away after his battle with cancer. Paul was a long time ADMC board member who represented Ecosystem Services Exchange. I knew Paul both from his time with NRCS as well as with ESE. Paul made huge contributions to water conservation throughout the Midwest. It was an honor to get to work will Paul and we hope that his family and loved ones find peace during this difficult time.
The Plastic Pipe Institute, ADMC platinum member, hosted a panel discussion on agricultural drainage issues at its semi-annual meeting in Milwuakee, WI. Panelists included: Bob Clark, President of Clark Farm Drainage; Bruce Clevenger, Associate Professor & Extension Educator from the Ohio State University; John Jones, Director of the Foundation for Agronomic Research; Rebecca Power, Director of the North Central Region Water Network; Kent Rodelius, Ag Market Relationship Manager for Prinsco Inc.; and Keegan Kult, Executive Director of ADMC.
ADMC is participating in the organizing committee as the vice-chair for the Conservation Drainage Network . The Conservation Drainage Network is a national partnership with the goal of improving drainage practices to meet future demands of crop production while reducing adverse environmental impacts of drainage. All are welcome to join the network, which includes participants from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA Agricultural Research Service and other federal agencies, universities, state agencies, the drainage industry, agricultural commodity groups, environmental groups, and others. To join the email list, click the following link https://lists.purdue.edu/mailman/listinfo/conservationdrainage.
The NRCS updated the Conservation Practice Standard “Irrigation and Draiange Tailwater Recovery” (Code 447) and is posted in the Federal Register for public comment. The update includes drainage water recycling which was developed by the Transforming Drainage team. The comment period runs until 11/22/2019. The link to the register is here. If you would like ADMC to submit comments on your behalf, please send the comments to Keegan.
The ADMC Annual Meeting was hosted by ISG on October 29th. New officers were elected to the executive committee. A preview to the press release being sent out can be found later in the newsletter. In addition to new officers focus will be made to put more articles out to highlight the benefits and needs of managing water in our agricultural systems. It is concerning that much of the information being put in the public’s hands does not inform them of the necessity of drainage in our agricultural systems. Additional focus will also be made in 2020 to expand ADMC’s membership to ensure the coalition’s mission can be carried out. Jeanne is finalizing the minutes of the meeting to capture all that was discussed.
ADMC Diamond Members
ADMC board of directors elects 2019-2020 officers
Industry experts in water management were elected to leadership positions within the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC) at the annual board meeting hosted by ISG in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ADMC is an industry led coalition that works with the USDA, drainage researchers, and conservation organizations to develop innovative tools to improve environmental outcomes while enhancing agricultural productivity.
Kent Rodelius, the Ag Market Relationship Manager for Prinsco, accepted the presidential nomination. Kent has been representing Prinsco on the ADMC board since 2007.
Others elected to serve the ADMC board as officers were: Mike Hagen, Advanced Drainage Systems – First Vice-President; Craig Douglas, Fratco Inc. – Second Vice-President; Scott Azbell, Trimble Agriculture – Secretary; and Steve Baker, Springfield Plastics, Inc – Treasurer.
Outgoing President Charlie Schafer, President of Agri Drain Corp., moved into the Chairmen of the Board position for ADMC.
Rodelius welcomed the opportunity to lead the coalition. “The work we do at ADMC, in partnership with ag producers and the environmental community, is critical to the future of water quality, wildlife habitat and increased yields. I am honored to be a part of it.”
ADMC would like to thank outgoing President Charlie Schafer for the leadership provided over all of these years and looks forward to working with Charlie in his new role as Chairman of the Board. Charlie is truly a visionary in the drainage industry.
ADMC Welcomes New Bronze Member
Alleghany Services has been a leader in farm drainage in New York state for more than 30 years. They provide engineered systems to maximize crop yield and install more than two million linear feet of tile each year.
NRCS Opens the Door for Funding Automated Control Structures
Heavy spring rains followed by extended summer dry periods have been occurring more often across the Midwest and don’t seem to be going away. In fact, the Fourth National Climate Assessment has predicted a 20% increase in winter/spring precipitation across the Corn Belt in the north central United States. Even with an increase in springtime precipitation, summer soil moisture values are expected to be stressed due to warmer temperatures and extended dry periods. 2019 was no exception to this pattern as a vast majority of the Corn Belt experienced above average or much above average precipitation from March-May only to then have 52 million acres across Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa register on the U.S. drought monitor as either abnormally dry or in moderate drought (Figure 1).
The shift in distribution of rainfall exacerbates the need to improve the drainage infrastructure. The infrastructure needs to not only convey the increased spring precipitation, but to be able to manage the water by treating nutrients and retaining moisture when possible. Much of the tile was installed a century ago, and the need to manage water beyond removing it from the field was not realized.
Today we see the advantages of being able to drain in the spring, and then retaining the drainage water for summer use. Controlled drainage, or drainage water management, is a practice that works by using a control structure to manage a drainage systems outlet height. By controlling the outlet height, the manager can control the volume of water that is drained based on the needs of the crop. Reducing the amount of water discharged from the tile reduces the amount of nitrate and dissolved phosphorus leaving via the tile by upwards of 50%. Yield increases can also be realized in years like 2019 where there was a wet spring followed by a dry summer.
Controlled drainage is not a new concept; however, implementation has been slow. In fact, of the NRCS estimated 30 million Corn Belt acres suitable for controlled drainage, only 90,335 acres have been enrolled through the EQIP program from 2009-2018. Implementation is primed to increase due to both technological advancements and environmental awareness.
Current GPS technology allows contractors the needed accuracy to install drainage laterals along the field elevation contours. The NRCS is also opening the door for states to adopt a payment scenario to provide financial assistance for automated control structures within practice standard for Structures for Water Control.
Automated control structures can adjust the outlet elevation remotely. Automation will alleviate the worries of farmers who are concerned about having immediate access to the fields and control structures when stop log management is needed. It also will save needed time for farmers who manage multiple fields in various locations. ADMC is tracking which states have adopted the payment scenario and will make members aware when announcements have been made.