Maximize profit with the new Drain Spacing Tool

Use the Drain Spacing Tool to estimate the optimum tile drain spacing for your farm.

A field after drainage system installation.
A field after drainage system installation. Photo by Ehsan Ghane, MSU.

Michigan State University Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering has developed a new online app called the Drain Spacing Tool to maximize your profit.

What is the Drain Spacing Tool?

The Drain Spacing Tool estimates the optimum drain spacing that maximizes economic return on investment in the drainage system. For soils that would benefit from subsurface (tile) drainage, use this tool to estimate the optimum drain spacing for any combination of corn and soybean rotations.

How does this tool affect your bottom line?

The Drain Spacing Tool estimates the optimum drain spacing that provides the best corn yield at the lowest drainage system cost. This tool helps avoid spacings that are narrower than necessary, and thereby preventing an unnecessary increase in drainage system cost.

How does the tool protect water quality?

The tool improves water quality by helping the user avoid choosing too narrow drain spacings that would otherwise increase nitrate loss.

Nitrate load reduction is mainly due a decrease in drainage discharge. Research shows that shallow drains generate less drainage discharge than deep drains. The tool shows how much less drainage discharge is caused by shallow drains compared to deep drains. Therefore, the tool's estimate of the reduction in drainage discharge shows the potential nitrate load reduction with shallow versus deep drains.

Accessing the tool

Go to MSU’s Drainage Extension website to access the Drain Spacing Tool. You will also find an Extension bulletin and a user manual on that website to help navigate the tool.

For questions, contact Ehsan Ghane, assistant professor and Extension specialist at Michigan State University.

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