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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


FSR Drainage Field Day Combines Conservation with Profit

July 25, 2006

LONDON, Ohio -- Ohio State University's Farm Science Review will be the site of a three-day event showcasing the latest in cutting edge field drainage technology, combining improved production practices with conservation water management.


The Ohio Land Improvement Contractors Association (OLICA), an affiliate of the Land Improvement Contractors of America, which strives to protect land and water resources, will be installing drainage control structures on 40 acres of the Molly Caren Agricultural Center during Farm Science Review, Sept. 19-21. Show participants will have the opportunity to see the installation process of the drainage structures, how they work and the opportunities that exist to improve water quality while potentially making crop production more profitable.

The installation of the drainage structures will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily behind the Molly Caren Agricultural Center grain drying area.

"Our ultimate goal with the drainage structures is to be able to get a return on our investment. We can measure this through increased yield," said Matt Sullivan, Farm Science Review assistant manager. "Through this system, we also want to be able to reduce soil erosion, as well as improve water quality."

The drainage control structures will be installed west of the grain storage area adjacent to land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The structures provide the ability to maintain an artificial level of water, which can be controlled with stop logs. Through the installation or removal of the stop logs, a grower can adjust the water table throughout the growing season when crops need water. Additionally, the stop logs also capture excess nitrogen left in the soil profile the crop did not use, which is eventually released as nitrogen gas.

"Ideally a farmer wants to use every pound of nitrogen put on a crop, but we want to make sure that whatever is not used is not running off the field and polluting waterways," said Sullivan. "This technology prevents that run-off."

Sullivan said Molly Caren Agricultural Center serves as a model for drainage technology and its incorporation into the site's comprehensive water management plan.

"And as one of the first sites in Ohio tying this kind of work to conservation management, we want to provide an avenue for people to gather the best information possible to assist in making decisions based on sound design and sound science," said Sullivan. "If a raindrop hits the Farm Science Review we want to know what happens to that raindrop. Does it go to the stream, or does it get utilized by the crop? And is it carrying nutrients with it? This field day is not just a time to put in drainage and say, ‘Hey, we've done something great'. It's a time for us to look for ways to improve the water that enters the Farm Science Review grounds."

Other partners of the project include Ohio State University Extension, Ohio State Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Service, Madison County Engineers, Madison Soil and Water Conservation District and Trimble Navigation.

Farm Science Review is sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and the academic units of the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased from county offices of OSU Extension or participating agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept 19-20 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21. For more information, log on to


Candace Pollock
Matt Sullivan