Overholt Drainage Education and Research Program


The program is in honor of the late Professor Virgil Overholt, who devoted 42 years to education and research on agricultural drainage in Ohio. It also recognizes the outstanding contributions of Ohio industry through the development of drainage materials and equipment. Ohio continues to be a world leader in agricultural drainage and land improvement. Two of the largest corrugated plastic-tubing manufacturers in the nation have their corporate offices and research laboratories in Ohio. The world’s largest producer of grade-control equipment for earth-moving machines, two major trencher manufacturers, and several large concrete and clay tile plants are also located in the state. A drainage contractors’ school has been conducted annually for over 50 years, and an active drainage research program has been underway for more than 51 years.

2022 Overholt Drainage School held at OSU Lima Campus (March 14-18)

Ohio is one of the national leaders in the installation of underground agricultural drains. Also, the USDA Agricultural Research Service Soil Drainage Research Unit is housed in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. This Unit has been an integral part of the Department’s soil and water program for many years.

The Overholt Drainage Education and Research Program, which includes the International Drainage Hall of Fame Award and the Drainage Design School, is now part of the International Program for Water Management in Agriculture. This program, initiated in 1984, is an outgrowth of nearly 60 years of drainage education and research at The Ohio State University by eminent scholars and educators, such as Virgil Overholt, Mel Palmer, Glenn Schwab, Byron Nolte, and Larry Brown.

Program Objectives

The program has three major objectives:

  1. To recognize outstanding educators, researchers, contractors, farmers, and/or industrialists who have made significant contributions to the development and use of drainage in agricultural production.
  2. To conduct continuing education and outreach education programs in drainage engineering and technology through annual in-depth schools for teachers, researchers, contractors, technicians, industry personnel, and engineers in private or public practice.
  3. To conduct drainage research programs to meet current and future needs including: crop response, timeliness of tillage and harvesting, economics, environmental impacts and remediation, and other management factors influencing the installation and operation of agricultural drainage systems.