Talking Tile: How to maintain your drains

Jesse Tait, Tait Bros. Contracting

There’s a sense of satisfaction after tile has been installed and a field has a new drainage system.

With sufficient outlet for drainage water movement, farmers can look forward to a more manageable, productive field and higher crop yields.

But a new drainage system is not a “one and done” type of thing, says drainage contractor Jesse Tait of Grand Valley, Ont.-based Tait Bros. Contracting.

On this episode of Talking Tile, Tait shares tile maintenance tips for farmers and what they can do to keep their systems working as efficiently as possible.

“If you have surface inlets, you’re going to have to keep them clean and your outlets are going to have to be marked and kept clean on a biannual basis.” says Tait. “Also, when you’re starting to get the field worked back down after the new system is put in, you don’t want to be running along the tile runs, you want to be hitting those on an angle — there’s a lot of loose soil still around the tile and we don’t want to disrupt that.”

Tait notes that limiting field compaction not only plays an important role in crop production but also makes for more efficient drainage. When soils are compacted water infiltration is compromised and less water runs into the tile.

“We want to really work our fields in the driest conditions possible to mitigate any of that type of compaction that does happen. Deep ripping, when it’s really dry, can actually help as well. But once again, just try to work it as dry as possible in the most favourable conditions.” He adds that good soil heath practices, including planting cover crops, also contribute to drainage health.

In the video below, Tait discusses a number of maintenance issues where farmers need to be vigilant including keeping plant roots out of tile and how trees can impact drainage.  He also notes how keeping tile maps and marking outlets can make it easier for farmers to work with their contractor to maintain drainage systems.

Tap here for more Talking Tile episodes.

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