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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Detection of Buried Agricultural Drainage Pipe with Geophysical Methods

Authors
item Allred, Barry
item Fausey, Norman
item Peters, Leon - OHIO STATE UNIV.
item Chen, Chi-Chih - OHIO STATE UNIV.
item Daniels, Jeffrey - OHIO STATE UNIV.
item Youn, Hyoung-Sun - OHIO STATE UNIV.

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2003
Publication Date: May 20, 2004
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/27642
Citation: Allred, B.J., Fausey, N.R., Peters, L., Chen, C., Daniels, J.J., Youn, H. 2004. Detection of buried agricultural drainage pipe using conventional geophysical methods. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 20(3):307-318.

Interpretive Summary: Finding buried agricultural drainage pipe is an important problem confronting farmers and land improvement contractors throughout the Midwest U.S. Present methods of locating subsurface drain lines are inefficient and can oftentimes result in damage to the buried drainage pipes. Geophysical methods presently used for environmental and construction engineering applications can provide the solution to this problem. In the first phase of this investigation, four different geophysical methods, including geomagnetic surveying, electromagnetic induction, resistivity, and ground penetrating radar, were tested on two central Ohio test plots containing clay tile and corrugated plastic tubing drainage pipe. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) was the only geophysical method of the four tested during this phase of research that had success in detecting buried drainage pipe. The final phase concentrated on GPR testing on nine additional southwest, central, and northwest Ohio test plots having a range of different soil textures (sandy loam to clay). Including all eleven test plots on which GPR was tested, the average effectiveness was 81 % in terms of locating the subsurface drainage pipe present. Overall, the results indicate that ground penetrating radar works remarkably well under a variety of field conditions in detecting buried agricultural drainage pipe down to depths of around 1 m (3 ft). This technology will be useful to land improvement and site development contractors.

Technical Abstract: One of the more frustrating problems confronting farmers and land improvement contractors in the Midwest U.S. involves locating buried agricultural drainage pipes. Enhancing the efficiency of soil water removal on land already containing a subsurface drainage system typically involves installing new drain lines between the old ones. However, before this approach can be attempted, the older drain lines need to be located. Conventional geophysical methods presently used for environmental and construction engineering applications have the potential to provide a solution to this problem. Four near-surface geophysical methods were investigated including, geomagnetic surveying, electromagnetic induction, resistivity, and ground penetrating radar. Of these four, only ground penetrating radar proved capable of detecting buried agricultural drainage pipe. Ground penetrating radar grid surveys were conducted in southwest, central, and northwest Ohio at eleven test plots containing subsurface drainage systems, and in regard to locating the total amount of pipe present at each site, this technology was shown to have an average effectiveness of 81% (100% of the pipe was found a six sites, 90% at one site, 75% at two sites, 50% at one site, and 0% at one site.) On the whole, this method was successful in finding clay tile and corrugated plastic tubing drainage pipe down to depths of around 1 m (3 ft).within a variety of different soil materials.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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