Potato Grower

November 2014

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54 Potato Grower | NOVEMBER 2014 diggin' in IRRIGATION By Daniel Ostrem The Next Level Managing the water table level with tiled ground SHALLOW WATER TABLES CAN have a great impact on crop production. The water level underground can greatly benefit the crop or hinder its growth depending on where it is located in respect to the plant's roots. Using tile can help manage water tables to increase land productivity, but this use needs to be carefully installed and managed to maximize production and minimize any adverse impacts it may create. Before a tile system is installed, it is a good idea to survey the field in order to determine what kind of system will provide the greatest benefit while keeping in mind possible future changes or additions. It is helpful to view a drainage system as not just controlling occasional "wet spots" at the surface after heavy rain, but managing the whole water table within the field. There are three main systems that can be utilized to control the level of the water table. The three systems are explained here: Conventional This system is the most well-known and requires the least amount of maintenance. It is designed for lowering the water table only by free drainage from the field. Controlled This system, also known as drainage water management, is a controlled design that allows the producer to manage the outlet either for drainage or to conserve additional water in the soil profile, but control is limited to current environmental conditions. While producer can lower the water table when needed, he or she is only able to raise the water table if enough water is naturally entering into the field. In the ground. Tiled ground gives flexibility in the water levels of their fields. Photo courtesy Pieper Farms Up and down. A controlled tile system allows grow- ers to either drain or conserve additional water in the soil. Illustration courtesy Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University Extension This additional management ability is obtained by the use of gates on the tile lines that either back up water into the

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