Tricounty News

Farmland drainage design workshops in March

The annual Minnesota Extension Drainage Design Workshops will be held in Crookston March 5-6; and in Owatonna on March 18-19. The workshops are a collaborative effort between the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, and South Dakota State University Extension.

Along with farmers and tile service providers, it’s good for the general public to note that people working with tile drainage have opportunities for professional training.

The 2-day workshops start at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. on day two. The workshops will focus on planning and design of agricultural tile drainage systems to meet both profitability and environmental objectives. The course content is taught in a hands-on manner with lots of discussion time, working with concepts that are taught.

Each workshop is intended for those interested in a more complete understanding of the planning and design principles and practices for drainage and water table management systems, including: farmers, landowners, consultants, drainage contractors, government staff and water resource managers.

Planning topics include legal aspects, basics of drainable soils, agronomic perspectives, doing your own tiling, land evaluation tools, wetlands, and conservation drainage concepts and techniques. The design topics begin with basic design considerations and progress through individual small team projects, with several hands-on problem-solving examples covering basic design and layout principles, water flow calculations, drain spacing, sizing, and grades. Design principles for lift stations and conservation drainage practices are also considered.

Registration for the workshops is now available at The registration price is $225, and each workshop is limited to about 65 participants. These workshops have typically filled quickly, so register early to guarantee a spot. Because of seating limitations, on-site registration will not be available on the day of the event. Detailed agendas and additional information is available at the website.

You’re also welcome to call the County Extension Office for assistance in getting this information. In Stearns County call 255-6169 if a local call to St. Cloud or (800) 450-6171; in Benton call 968-5077 if a local call to Foley or (800)
964-4929; and in Morrison call 632-0161 if a local call to Little Falls or (866) 401-1111.

Farm practices like drainage and irrigation raise questions about care of water quality and quantity concerns. At the same time the public wants an abundant and consistent supply of reasonably priced and high quality food. Farmers deal every year with the uncertainty of weather and markets. Drainage and irrigation practices, if done correctly, reduce the farmer’s financial risk significantly and contribute significantly to economy, our food supply and to other resources.

This requires skill in design and management of systems; and in making decisions as accurately as possible about crop nutrient and pest management practices. The University of Minnesota continues to do a considerable amount of research to identify better design and management practices.

The goal is to use these practices in a way that provides the best care possible for the soil and water resources we all depend on in the process. Many people would note that we aren’t making more land, so taking care of it and making the best of it counts a lot.