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Drainage Maintenance and Planning Can Protect Farms from Massive Storms

Even if the winds didn’t reach the dangerous levels that were initially expected, Hurricane Florence still brought an unprecedented amount of rain to those in the Carolinas, which has created issues that will take months to overcome. One of Mad Dog’s founders, Garrett Rhyne, is a native North Carolinian, and the whole region is in our thoughts.

Although the coast was hit the hardest, more than 30 inches of rain will have a drastic impact on inland farmers as well.

Realistically, there is absolutely nothing that can provide total protection from a storm of Florence’s size, and we’re not going to pretend otherwise. Those in the Midwest will never need to deal with storms this epic. But, unfortunately, the whole country will probably be dealing with higher amounts of rainfall for years to come. “Five-year rains” is a term used to describe epic storms that should only theoretically occur one every five years. Researchers at Michigan University have shown that these storms are appearing more than their name suggests.

If you are a farmer, there is nothing you can do to prevent these storms. The best you can do is to take steps to make sure you are prepared as well as you can be. Updating both drain tile and drainage waterways are the best ways to insure your land against dramatic storms.

Many drain tile systems are nearly a century old. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps created a tile network across the Midwest, much of which is still in use. And we’re talking about actual tile here. You’ve seen the tile in old bathrooms—it cracks, it takes water damage. Now imagine that same tile after 90 years.

Replacing aging drain tile systems helps to maintain effective drainage during epic downpours.

Dispersed Profile Waterway

 

The technology behind drainage channels has improved over the years as well. The old-fashioned method of creating an outlet for excess water was to make the channel as thin as possible, with steep walls, so that as little space as possible that could be used for crops was wasted.

Ironically, the steep walls of these channels erode away for years, widening the gap and reclaiming the land it was meant to protect. The eroded soil also clogs up the flow of the drainage channel.  

The new method is to create a “graduated” channel, or one with gentle downward slopes. This may seem counterintuitive, as it takes more space. There are several benefits, however. For one, you can plant grass along the banks of these channels. This grass will capture the excess fertilizer and nitrates that flow from your crops, and they make the surrounding soil healthier in the process. This also prevent the nitrates from getting into the water system and creating problems downstream.

The hidden benefit of a graduated drainage channel? You can drive your farm equipment right across it! This makes work much more efficient than with steeper profiled channels, where you need to drive around.

The future looks like it will be wetter. Make sure that you have drainage systems in place to help ease the impact it will have on your property.

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1 Comment to

david gilmoreSeptember 24, 2018. 1:44 pm

An excellent post ! We’re about to get flooded here in Pawleys and Georgetown from the Florence rains flowing downstream. Stay safe up in the tundra!

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