for PA Farms Environmental, Inc.
The purpose of agricultural drainage is to remove excess water from the soil in order to enhance crop production. In some soils, the natural drainage processes are sufficient for growth and production of agricultural crops, but in many other soils, artificial drainage is needed for efficient agricultural production.
Surface drainage is the removal of water that collects on the land surface. Many fields have low spots or depressions where water ponds. Surface drainage techniques such as land leveling, constructing surface inlets to subsurface drains, and the construction of shallow ditches or waterways can allow the water to leave the field rather than causing prolonged wet areas.
Poorly drained area in crop field will damage yields
Subsurface drainage removes excess water from the soil profile, usually through a network of perforated tubes installed 2 to 4 feet below the soil surface. These tubes are commonly called "tiles" because they were originally made from short lengths of clay pipes known as tiles. Water would seep into the small spaces between the tiles and drains away.
The most common type of "tile" is corrugated plastic tubing with small perforations to allow water entry. When the water table in the soil is higher than the tile, water flows into the tubing, either through holes in the plastic tube or through the small cracks between adjacent clay tiles. This lowers the water table to the depth of the tile over the course of several days. Drain tiles allow excess water to leave the field, but once the water table has been lowered to the elevation of the tiles, no more water flows through the tiles. In most years, drain tiles are not flowing between June and October.