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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Allred, Barry
item Fausey, Norman - Norm
item Peters, Leon
item Chen, Chi-chih
item Daniels, Jeffery
item Youn, Hyoung-sun
item Conroy, Jim
item Johnston, Greg

Submitted to: Land and Water
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2001
Publication Date: 9/20/2001
Citation: Allred, B.J., Fausey, N.R., Peters, L., Chen, C., Daniels, J., Youn, H., Conroy, J., Johnston, G. 2001. Detection of buried drainage pipes using geophysical methods. Land and Water. p. 34-37.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: One of the more frustrating problems that confront land improvement contractors is finding buried drainage pipes. Based on a 1985 USDA survey, the Midwest alone contains 31 million acres with subsurface drainage improvements. This is largely limited to cropland, where subsurface drainage systems have been installed to remove excess water from the root zone, thereby promoting increased agricultural productivity. Enhancing the efficiency of soil water removal on land already having a subsurface drainage system typically involves installing new drainage pipes between the old ones. By keeping the old drainage pipes and not destroying them, less new ones are needed, thus substantially reducing the cost to farmers. However, before this approach can be attempted, the older drain lines need to be located. Finding drainage pipe is not an easy task, especially for systems installed dmore than a generation ago. Often, records have been lost, and the only outward appearance of the subsurface drainage system is a single pipe outlet extending into a ditch. From this, little can be deduced about the network pattern used in drainage pipe placement. Without records that show precise locations, finding a drain line with heavy trenching equipment causes pipe damage requiring costly repairs, and the alternative of using a hand-held tile probe rod is extremely tedious at best. Satellite or airborne remote sensing technologies show some promise but are only applicable during certain times of the year and under very limited site conditions. Research scientists with the USDA, ARS, the Ohio State Univ. ElectroScience Laboratory, and the OSU Dept. of Geological Sciences hope to solve this problem using geophysical methods to locate the drain lines.

Last Modified: 08/20/2017
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