Proper Drainage at Work: The Long-Term Impact of Subdrain Installation

Subdrain Lines

One of the highlights of 2022 was the increased crop yields experienced by many farmers throughout Ontario. Increased crop yield can be the result of many contributing factors, including one that we continue to endorse at Ontario Agra, proper drainage. Subsurface drainage through Subdrain/ Weeping Tile installation and management works by removing excess water from fields. Improved field drainage creates significant benefits for your soil health, environmental impact, and increased crop yield for larger profits year after year. 

Throughout this article we’re going to explore the positive impact that proper subdrain systems can have on your field, and what to expect once your drainage system is installed.

Subdrain Line Illustration

How does subdrain installation benefit your land?

1.    Reduces Excess Water
Subsurface drainage redirects water away from areas with a high water table. This is critical for areas with frequent flooding and soil saturation that can negatively impact crop health.

2.    Increases Drought Tolerance
In areas where drought is a challenge, subdrain systems can be used to improve water retention in the soil, or divert excess rainwater to holding ponds for future use. 

3.    Minimizes Erosion
Soil erosion and degradation can be caused by excess rainfall, resulting in loss of soil volume. This can be magnified by traditional plowing methods. Improved drainage can reduce the impact of heavy rainfalls, helping to preserve soil nutrients and the surrounding areas of your property that can be affected by erosion. 

4.    Lowers Environmental Impact
Agricultural runoff can be high in dissolved minerals and organic compounds, which can cause issues for neighbouring water supply. A drainage system will ensure that this runoff is redirected to avoid local rivers and ponds, protecting the local ecosystem.

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How does subdrain installation benefit your crops?

Some information originally sourced by this article from Virginia Tech – Virginia State University.

Water Table Drainage
Poor aeration and shallow root systems (A) can be alleviated through drainage (B), which improves aeration and allows for deeper rooting. Deeper roots can keep plants healthy during both summer droughts and summer downpours.​

1.    Removes Excess Water
Effective subsurface drainage removes excess soil water in the root zone, allowing for improved soil aeration. Prolonged exposure to saturated conditions and poor soil aeration can stress the crop, reducing yield. 

2.    Increased Workability
Drainage can improve field trafficability, allowing more reliable field access while reducing compaction. Drier soils are less susceptible to compaction than wetter soils. 

3.    Deeper Roots
Drainage enables crops to establish deeper root systems in fields, allowing greater access to nutrients and soil water. 

4.    Improved Consistency
Drainage can reduce the year-to-year variability in yields from poorly drained fields. Drainage can increase nitrification (the conversion of ammonia to nitrate) in most soils, providing more nitrate for plant uptake. 

We’re fortunate to work closely with Tony Kime, President of Bluewater Pipe, who is at the forefront of the drainage industry’s technological advancement throughout Ontario. Tony’s research has proven that “The increased yields are the result of better drought management. Desaturating the soil early in the season allows soil to warm quicker, increases air in the soil, and improves microbial activity. It gives a deeper root zone through the whole field because the water table becomes more level to the field tiles.” Tony Kime. Bluewater Pipe Inc. a Soleno Group Company.

Farmers have told us that they expect a 10 – 20% increase in crop yield after investing in proper drainage. Winter is the perfect time for farmers to review and plan drainage improvements for their land. Whenever you’re ready to take the first step, we’re here to help you get started.

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