The Field to Lake Twilight Open House was held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 and featured the farming conservation practice Drainage Water Management Structures. The goal of the event was to bring agricultural producers into the field and see the structures in place, how they work, ask questions and to learn from other farmers. The event took place as collaborative effort with OSU Paulding Extension Office, The Conservation Action Project, Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District and the support of local agricultural producer, Don Johnson. Additionally, The Nature Conservancy collaborated by creating a virtual event by recording information prior to the open house and posting it online for anyone that may have wanted to participate but was not able to do so.
The approach was unique – bring the event to the field, where the practice can be observed and where farmers are in their element. Multiple tables were spaced far apart from one another in the fields’ ample buffer strip. Participants could choose to walk or drive from station to station. After participants were signed in and given a program for the event, they could visit a tabletop display of the drainage structure to see the mechanics of the practice and visit an educational display on soil health. Additionally, participants could examine 3 different styles of drainage boxes that are installed in the field. Johnson was on-site and was able to answer questions and discuss what he liked and dislike about the structures and how they could benefit him.
While subsurface tile placement in fields in Paulding County are common and well accepted as essential to fields for drainage and providing the best yields, these drainage boxes are still gaining momentum. These management structures have been identified by Purdue Extension Office, “as a management method to help keep water at the root zone and increases potential capillary up flow by the plant.” Controlled drainage systems can retain water in field areas that could be used for crop production later in the season. The added benefit to utilizing these structures is that implementing this strategy will also work to reduce nitrate loading to surface water and improve water quality.