The Transforming Drainage project has brought together a team of more than 60 researchers, extension specialists, agricultural engineers, and graduate students to establish a dynamic network of partners and collaborators. This network encompasses collaborations across universities, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and commodity groups, and includes involvement in key research and policy groups such as the North Central Extension and Research Activity – Committee 217 (Drainage design and management practices to improve water quality) and Southern Extension and Research Activities - Committee 46 (Framework for Nutrient Reduction Strategy Collaboration).
Team members worked with NRCS partners to revise and update NRCS Conservation Practice Standard #447, Irrigation and Drainage System Tailwater Recovery. The revised standard will be made available for public comment, and now covers the practice of drainage water recycling for tile-drained landscapes.
The Transforming Drainage project has established a robust network of 36 research sites where the evaluation of drainage water storage practices previously has, or is currently, taking place. A Transforming Drainage database has been established and serves as the foundation for research, synthesis, and modeling for the project. Currently, the database has compiled and cataloged more than 195 site-years of crop yield data, 204 site years of tile drain flow, 91 site-years of water table measurements, 163 site-years of tile drain flow nitrate concentration, 94 site-years of tile drain flow phosphorus concentration, 222 site-years of weather data, and supporting field management data (e.g. planting/harvest date, water table management, soils characteristics, fertility, etc.) from research sites.
During the past year team members have authored or co-authored 9 peer-reviewed publications, 17 research conference presentations, 4 research conference posters, 2 PhD dissertations, and 1 M.S. thesis focusing on drainage water storage practices. Some of these included:
- Gunn, K.M., Baule, W.J., Frankenberger, J.R., Gamble, D.L., Allred, B.J., Andresen, J.A. and Brown, L.C., 2018. Modeled climate change impacts on subirrigated maize relative yield in northwest Ohio. Agricultural water management, 206, pp.56-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2018.04.034
- Jia, X. and Lin, M., 2018. Water Quality Changing Trends from a Subsurface Drained and Subirrigated Field. In 2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. https://doi.org/10.13031/aim.201801767
- Jaynes, D.B. and Isenhart, T.M., 2019. Performance of saturated riparian buffers in Iowa, USA. Journal of Environmental Quality, 48(2), pp.289-296. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2018.03.0115
- Kolars, K., Jia, X., Steele, D.D. and Scherer, T.F., 2019. A Soil Water Balance Model for Subsurface Water Management. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. https://doi.org/10.13031/aea.13038
- Niaghi, A.R., Jia, X., Steele, D.D. and Scherer, T.F., 2019. Drainage water management effects on energy flux partitioning, evapotranspiration, and crop coefficients of corn. Agricultural Water Management, 225, p.105760. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2019.105760
- Reinhart, B.D., Frankenberger, J.R., Hay, C.H. and Helmers, M.J., 2019. Simulated water quality and irrigation benefits from drainage water recycling at two tile-drained sites in the US Midwest. Agricultural Water Management, 223, p.105699. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2019.105699
The Transforming Drainage project was successful in developing four new tools that can be used by conservation planners, producers, researchers, and advisors to improve decisions about controlled drainage, subirrigation, and drainage water recycling systems. These include the Controlled Drainage Site Suitability Tool, Subirrigation Site Suitability Tool, Evaluating Drainage Water Recycling Decisions (EDWRD), and the Transforming Drainage Rate Calculator. Additional tools are currently under development.
The Transforming Drainage project website, where products and outputs from the project are posted, saw 6,600 users interact with the site during 2018, averaging about 640 users per month.
Drainage water storage practices and concepts were highlighted in extension events across the Midwest, increasing awareness and knowledge among stakeholders. A total of 36 extension presentations given by project team members to more the 1,800 agricultural producers, agency and conservation staff, and drainage contractors. These presentations covered research results highlighting each of the drainage water storage practices; saturated buffers, controlled drainage, and drainage water recycling. The Greenley Research Center Conservation Showcase was the largest extension event, including more than 1,300 donated hours of labor by the Missouri LICA to construct a drainage water recycling demonstration at the Grace Greenley Farm.
The extension publication, "Questions and Answers about Saturated Buffers for the Midwest", was published. This extension publication provides a broad overview of the benefits, costs, and other issues related to this practice.