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Farm Showcase: Innovative Drainage & Conservation Solutions

June 23, 2020 - Eric Geiger, AFM, AAC

Recently water issues emerged on a Peoples Company managed farm located in south Nemaha County, Nebraska. It is a 155-acre farm with 145 acres of tillable land that is non-irrigated. It is gently rolling with some grass waterways and two non-crossable drains. Following is a description of the property and issues, an overview of what was done, and finally, how the costs worked out.

On the upper Northwest portion there were two areas, which due to excessive rainfall in the previous years, the tenant was not able to get eight to 13 acres planted. Along the Westside, the neighbor to the West ended their tile at the property line and was now draining across our farm, causing not only some erosion issues but also difficulty getting later planted crops in and out. 

Picture: Overhead view of the farm with project notes.
Overhead view of the farm with project notes

The tenant and I researched the situation and came up with a plan to install tile starting in the Northwest corner, progressing in a southeast direction at the 4-5 foot level to remove excess groundwater. Along the North going east, there were two areas that we decided to put in some small terraces with drains to better control erosion. Along the West side of the field, there were problems getting equipment such as sprayers, tillage, and harvest equipment across that area. It was usually dry enough to get the crop in, but it was slow to dry due to the drainage coming from the west. It was best served to put in some culverts to make an access “path” going north to ensure access to that area. This is a farm in which crops are rotated each year; the Southern half is one crop and the North another, so in times when the North crop is late, we needed to be able to access it in a wet year and the culverts will allow this.

Picture: Reviewing the work
Reviewing the work

Instead of the owner paying for the entire project, we entered into an agreement where the tenant would install and pay for the tile. Since he already had the equipment to do all the work, he was able to work on it throughout the next two years. At that time, rents had gone up. Instead of raising his rent, we kept his rent at the same amount as the installation of the tile made up the difference. We entered into a three-year lease which made the tenant feel comfortable putting in the time, knowing he could farm it for the next three years. It also gained him the opportunity to reap the benefits of the tile project. Everything kept the economic risk low for the owner, with the tenant able to prove the project was beneficial.

Picture: Conservation in process
Conservation in process

Peoples Company land managers are available on a consulting or full management basis to help meet landowner goals for farm use and productivity. To learn more, email LandManagement@PeoplesCompany.com or call 855.800.5263 (LAND).


Published in: Agriculture