HSHW team involved in new long-term drainage research study in northwest Ohio

It is projected that future climate in the Midwest will be characterized by wetter and warmer winters and springs, and hotter and drier summers. In response to heavier precipitation events, many producers are favoring narrower tile drain spacing…but will this lead to over-drainage when wet springs give way to dry summers?

A new experiment at OSU’s Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Hoytville, OH will compare 40-foot drain spacing to 25-foot spacing, across various treatments including three tillage treatments, cover crops, and a corn-soybean rotation. The study will look at the effects of these treatments on trafficability, soil moisture, soil health, crop stress, crop yield, and economics.

Read the full article in OSU Extension’s C.O.R.N. Newsletter

Managing controlled drainage structures in spring and fall

Long-term research at The Ohio State University has shown a 6% yield increase for corn and 3.5% yield increase for soybeans within the elevation zone influenced by controlled drainage, compared to a free draining outlet. Naturally, one is inclined to manage the structures actively only during the growing season. However, if managed properly during the non-growing season, controlled drainage has tremendous benefits to water quality downstream. The non-growing season management becomes a requirement if you are enrolled into an incentive program. Simply raising the outlet elevation by stacking boards in the control structure after harvest in the fall and leaving the structure in “controlled drainage” mode throughout the winter and spring, can help reduce up to 50% of the drainage discharge from the tile outlet. This reduction in discharge translates into net reduction in nutrient export from the field. Transitioning of seasons calls for some adjustments to the board heights in the control structures, as will be explained below.

I wrote a detailed article recently in Ohio’s Country Journal that provides some guidelines for managing control structures during growing and non-growing seasons. The article can be accessed at:

Win-Win with Controlled drainage!

By: Vinayak Shedekar

Controlled drainage (drainage water management) is often called a Win-Win practice due to its benefit to downstream water quality as well as crop yields (if practiced during growing season). The growing season of 2023 was probably a good season to test if and how controlled drainage can help boost or sustain crop yields? Our recent article in Ohio’s Country Journal demonstrates how controlled drainage may have played a role in conserving some moisture during the early season drought in Ohio. Further, we give some guidance to producers on how they can use the yield monitor data from their fields and estimate the effect of controlled drainage within the zone of influence of controlled drainage. Full article can be accessed at:

Dr. Norman Fausey, Retired USDA-ARS scientist demonstrates management of a controlled drainage structure

Conservation design options for drainage ditches

A new article (by our collaborators Jon Witter, Jessica D’Ambrosio, and Justin McBride) featured in Ohio’s Country Journal, “Ditch Design Options“, has just been released! This article briefly describes ditch design options, considerations, and tradeoffs.

Be sure to visit the Conservation Ditches section of our website for more information about these ditches.

Nominations are sought for the 2021 and 2022 inductees to the International Drainage Hall of Fame.

The International Drainage Hall of Fame Award seeks to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and use of drainage in agricultural production. Persons eligible for nomination include those who have provided extensive service to the science, art, engineering, and/or practice of agricultural drainage and water management in any of the following areas: teaching, extension education, research, technology development, consulting, contractor training, implementation and practice, leadership in the agricultural drainage industry at state, national, and/or international levels. More details are available at Continue reading Nominations are sought for the 2021 and 2022 inductees to the International Drainage Hall of Fame.