Tile drainage maintenance

Here are some basic tips that will help you keep your tile fields well drained.

Tile drainage has proven to be an effective means to farm land that in past generations would have been overlooked. A field day last fall sponsored by Michigan State University Extension emphasized installation and management of field tiles. Proper installation is the key to ensuring that fields are drained properly, but the work does not stop there. Continuous maintenance is imperative to guarantee that the tiles function and longevity.

There are some simple maintenance steps that you can take to make sure that your field tiles work efficiently:

  • Conduct regular field inspections looking for unexpected wet spots
  • Check for signs of soil erosion
  • If manure is applied on the field, check tile inlets and outlets making sure that there is no manure accumulation
  • Check the water quality of the drain looking for phosphorus and e-coli if applicable
  • Remove any debris from around the tile inlet

Cleaning tiles is one of the simplest ways to maintain the effectiveness of your tile lines. A tile-cleaning contractor can determine if the tile is damaged or not working properly. Plant roots can clog the end of tile lines, or in some cases it can break through the lines and damage the tile. However, properly engineered tile lines should withstand plant roots no matter what crop is planted. That's why tile maintenance is extremely important.

Like your septic drainage, field tiles have a limited life span. Keep them clean and well-maintained and they should last for many seasons. For information on possible USDA programs and eligibility for tile construction or management consult your Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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