To ensure proper moisture content for productive soils in the U.S. Corn Belt region, farmers use drainage strategies on approximately 25% of their cropland. While this is some of the most productive land in the world, it is at risk from too much or too little water in any given year. This limits crop productivity and threatens water quality. Climate change is resulting in more intense rainfall and scorching droughts, which makes water management problems worse for farmers.
Funded by USDA, Purdue University leads a team that includes researchers and extension specialists from Iowa State University, The Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University, University of Missouri, and University of Minnesota. The collaborative team helps farmers with their water management challenges through the 5-year “Transforming Drainage” project. They integrated research, education, and extension to improve drainage strategies and implement water storage solutions.
The team is providing tools and strategies to farmers, watershed managers, and policymakers to inform decisions about storing drainage water in the agricultural landscape. Practices such as controlled drainage, saturated buffers, and drainage water recycling are useful.
The project also educates the next generation of farmers, engineers, and scientists about drainage and water storage. The result is that farmers’ operations will be more resilient, sustainable, and profitable in the Corn Belt and beyond.