Not only does drainage or improved water management improve crop and forage production, it allows for field operations and grazing to occur when they are needed, without damaging or compacting soils. Improved water management will be a key agricultural adaptation measure for dealing with climate change.
There are a variety of choices for improving drainage and water management in agricultural fields. First a landowner will need to understand where the excess water is coming from. Depending on soil type, topography, and geology, problematic water can often be addressed cost-effectively with perimeter interventions (i.e. interceptor drains), or with management practices to improve internal soil drainage.
Raised beds, diversions, and surface berms are also viable options that can be successful in the right situation. Tile drainage remains an effective option, but is receiving increased scrutiny due to concern over phosphorus loading.