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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Cooper, Richard
item Fausey, Norman - Norm
item Johnson, Jay

Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/3/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Nearly every year moisture is a yield limiting factor in the humid Midwest. Also, most midwestern soils require subsurface drainage to remove excess water in the spring or after a heavy rain. The use of subsurface drainage lines to remove excess water during wet periods and in reverse to subirrigate during drought periods results in a total water management system. Subirrigation/drainage systems are limited to fairly level soils and soils that will hold water. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the potential of a subirrigation/drainage system on Ravenna silt loam in NE Ohio and on Hoytville silty clay loam in NW Ohio to maintain consistently high corn yields. These research results would benefit growers who farm land suitable for subirrigation (level soils with good water holding capacity, and who have access to an adequate water supply). By use of a subirrigation/drainage management system, they could increase their average corn yields from 150 to 165 bu/A to 185 to 200 bu/A, with year to year consistent yields in the 180 to 200 bu/A range.

Technical Abstract: Subirrigation/drainage is a relatively new concept in water management, where drain lines are used both to add or remove water from the soil to maintain a constant water table. The objective of this research was to determine if corn yields could be increased and stabilized at high yield levels by the use of subirrigation/drainage systems. Two 3-year subirrigation/drainage studies on corn were conducted, one at Wooster in NE Ohio on Ravenna silt loam (1990-92), and one in NW Ohio near Hoytville on a Hoytville silty clay loam (1992-1994). Results of this research indicated significant increases in corn yields can be obtained in dry years but in favorable moisture years little yield increase was observed. These data suggest that some factor other than water is limiting corn yields in favorable moisture years and under subirrigation. However, these data indicate that corn yields can be stabilized at high levels (180 to 200 bu/A) by the use of subirrigation/drainage, resulting in higher long term average yields.

Last Modified: 06/21/2017
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