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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Location of Agricultural Subsurface Drainage Systems Using Geophysical and Geotechnical Methods

Authors
item Allred, Barry
item Fausey, Norman
item Daniels, J - OSU, COLUMBUS, OH
item Peters, Jr, L - OSU, COLUMBUS, OH
item Chen, C - OSU, COLUMBUS, OH
item Stombaugh, T - U.KY, LESINGTON, KY

Submitted to: ASAE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 9, 2000
Publication Date: July 9, 2000
Citation: ALLRED, B.J., FAUSEY, N.R., DANIELS, J.J., PETERS, JR, L., CHEN, C., STOMBAUGH, T.S. LOCATION OF AGRICULTURAL SUBSURFACE DRAINAGE SYSTEMS USING GEOPHYSICAL AND GEOTECHNICAL METHODS. 2000. ASAE PAPER NO. 002112.

Interpretive Summary: The majority of Ohio cropland has been altered to enhance drainage. These land improvements remove excess soil water, thereby increasing crop yields. When surface modifications alone are not enough, a subsurface drainage system comprised of a buried pipe network is installed. Excess soil water seeps into the pipes through perforations or open joints and is then conveyed off-site through an outlet in a stream or ditch. Many subsurface drain systems were installed over a century ago and records showing their placement have long since been lost. These old systems are typically still operational and their locations need to be determined in order to reduce system alteration expenses or to avoid problems that are often associated with initiation of new construction projects. At present, there are no adequate methods for finding subsurface drains. Our research investigation will attempt to solve this problem through the innovative development and extensive testing of several geophysical and geotechnical techniques that are capable of detecting buried features. Once the successful technologies have been determined, an economic survey will be conducted to assess cost effectiveness. The major benefits of finding a better way to locate agricultural drains include reduced expenses to farmers and increased productivity for drainage contractors. Another exciting possibility might be the formation of an entirely new agricultural service industry specializing in geophysical and/or geotechnical site evaluations.

Technical Abstract: Large areas of Ohio cropland contain subsurface drainage systems. Without these systems, excess soil water could not be removed, in turn making current levels of crop production impossible to achieve. A major problem confronting the agricultural industry in Ohio and the Midwestern USA in general, is the inability to easily locate old drainage system pipes. Before enhancement modifications to the subsurface drainage system can be made or prior to the initiation of major construction projects on farmland containing subsurface drains, these buried pipes need to be located. Present methods for detecting agricultural drain pipe are inadequate and expensive. A research project, funded by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, (OARDC), has been initiated and will focus on determining effective and efficient ways of using geophysical or geotechnical techniques to find buried drains under a variety of site conditions. Specifically, (1) conventional geophysical methods using commercially available equipment are to be applied on experiment plots having subsurface drainage, (2) a new ground penetrating radar system will be tested and further developed, (3) the viability of a recently assembled geotechnical sensor probe, potentially capable of finding trenches where drain pipe are buried, is to be investigated and (4) an economic survey will be conducted on the cost effectiveness of employing successfully tested geophysical/geotechnical tools. The two major benefits expected from finding a better way of detecting subsurface drains are reduced expenses to farmers and increased productivity for drainage contractor.

Last Modified: 12/26/2014
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