The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition held its annual meeting on November 3rd in Bloomington, MN. ISG was once again the host of the meeting. Below is the President’s Report from Kent Rodelius.
ADMC members had another impactful year as ADMC has always been and it continues to be a member led organization. ADMC welcomed new Platinum member and partner the Drain Tile Safety Coalition, Silver member Hands On Excavating, a commitment from the first equipment manufacturer Port Industries at the Bronze level, and an Associate membership from the United Kingdom with Farm Services Ltd. Membership support continues to drive new opportunities, partnerships, and elevates the drainage industry. Once again, ADMC is being sought after as a resource and collaborator. It is more than encouraging to see that insights from the industry are in demand to find practical solutions and paths towards implementation. Membership support allows ADMC to be a voice in those discussions.
Recently, ADMC had a strong presence at the International Drainage Symposium (IDS). Many members were there as sponsors, presenters, and participants. The Coalition itself was an exhibitor, presenter, and planner of a field tour stop. The stop was at a the Tesdell Farm, which was part of the Polk County Saturated Buffer Project. The Polk County Saturated Buffer Project has seen more than 100 edge of field practices installed over the past two years. The alternative practice delivery model is now being replicated across Iowa and conversations are starting to other areas of the Midwest.
President of AgriDrain Corp. and ADMC Chairman of the Board Charlie Schafer was inducted into the International Drainage Hall of Fame which is housed at the Ohio State University during the IDS. Charlie joins a short list of industry leaders and researchers who have had the honor of being inducted into the IDHOF. Charlie graciously credited the industry members of ADMC and the advancements in water management that the coalition has made over the past 20 years for the honor.
ADMC, with assistance from Sands Consulting, revamped its Drainage Water Management Certification Course this summer. In total there were 186 registrants who received course materials, with 108 of those attending live events. The others have the option to complete the course On Demand. Eighty-four participants successfully completed the final exam for certification. Thirty-five contractors from across the U.S., Canada, U.K, and even New Zealand attended the course. The course was also very popular among agency staff as there were 59 registrants that were either from county, state, or federal agencies.
In addition to providing training in drainage water management design which can be used to obtain Technical Service Provider status from the NRCS, ADMC has also been working closely with NRCS to gain clarification and consistency for the new Design and Implementation Activity 164 for drainage water management. DIA 164 has replaced the previous DWM CAP 130. NRCS has increased the funding level for TSP’s, as it is now considered a design and not plan. TSP’s need to check with the local NRCS State Conservation Engineer to determine if a PE stamp is required. If multiple outlets or fields are going to be incorporated into the design, be sure to check with NRCS to be certain on the number of plans and subsequent funding level the landowner will be eligible. Ecosystem Services Exchange ADMC board representative Tom Christensen has been vital in leading the conversations with NRCS on clarity that is needed for private practitioners.
The board reviewed the recent EPA Region 7 study that evaluated ecosystem services and tradeoffs between farmed wetlands in Iowa and constructed wetlands. The study looked at four scenarios which ranged from status quo, improving drainage in farmed wetlands without incorporating constructed wetlands, constructed wetlands with no improvements in drainage, and finally improving drainage with incorporating constructed wetlands. More study is needed but recognizing that there could be net positive in terms of ecosystem services such as lower green house gas production, wildlife habitat, pollinator habitat, and nutrient export could have future policy ramifications. The paper identified areas of research to determine what the net balance of services would be. The work is looking to expand into EPA Region 5 as it is unknown how transferable the findings would be.
Project work has been going well as ADMC is part of numerous batch and build efforts in Iowa. Another 51 projects were installed in Polk County with another 20 going in in neighboring Story County. The contractor doing the installation work is Jacob Handsaker of Hands On Excavating an ADMC Silver member. There are another 5-6 batch and builds getting started in Iowa. We are receiving interest to pilot batch and builds in Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio.
Finally, our relationship with researchers and the Conservation Drainage Network is very strong. ADMC was the hosting entity for the Conservation Drainage Network 2022 Annual Meeting in Fort Wayne, IN. ADMC will be the host for the Conservation Drainage Network 2023 Annual Meeting that will be held in Easton, MD April 4-6.