Overholt Drainage School offers soil, water management education

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Ohio growers can increase yields by some 20 to 35 percent for rotation corn with proper subsurface drainage, according to research from Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center conducted at the Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Hoytville, Ohio.

Overall average yield can increase up to 6 percent for corn and 3.5 percent for soybeans with controlled drainage, according to research conducted on demonstration farms in northwest Ohio, said Larry Brown, an agricultural engineer with joint appointments with Ohio State University Extension and OARDC.

“Improved drainage is quite beneficial on Ohio’s poorly drained soils for increased and sustained crop yields,” Brown said. “With improved corn and soybean prices the past five years, the potential for yield increases to cover the costs of new or improved subsurface drainage is much greater than, say, 10 to 20 years ago.”

Farmers, land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians and engineers can learn more about agricultural drainage as well as learn about construction and management of soil and water conservation systems during the annual Overholt Drainage School March 11-15, led by Ohio State and other industry experts.

The program, held at the Agricultural Engineering Building, 590 Woody Hayes Drive, on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, is open to anyone interested in advancing their knowledge of basic concepts, principles, and skills related to the purpose, design, layout, construction and management of soil and water conservation systems, with emphasis on water management and water quality, said Brown, who is also a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE).

“The emphasis for this educational program is proper water management on existing cropland, with a focus these past 10 years on balancing food production, economic and environmental goals,” he said.

New this year, the surveying session will focus on GPS to conduct topographic mapping, system layout and installation, Brown said. The session previously focused on laser surveying, he said. And many of the sessions include fieldwork, classroom instruction and evening work sessions, he said.

The conference topics include:

  • Session 1: Topographic mapping with GPS, March 11-12.
  • Session 2: Agricultural subsurface drainage design, layout and installation, March 12-14.
  • Session 3: Drainage water management: controlled subsurface drainage design, layout and installation, March 15.

The Overholt Drainage School is sponsored by OSU Extension, OARDC, Overholt Drainage Education and Research Program, FABE and CFAES; in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Ohio Land Improvement Contractors and Associates.

The full schedule and registration information can be found at http://agcrops.osu.edu/specialists/soil-and-water-management . Participants should mail the register form by March 7 to Brown at OSU Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 590 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, Ohio, 43210. Registration for the full conference is $637 (or $365 for session 1, $555 for session 2 and $145 for session 3).

Registration includes tuition, lunches, refreshments, materials, supplies, manuals, guides, design notebooks and certificate of completion. Participants should bring a calculator, warm clothes and work boots for field work on March 11-12.

More information on the program can be found at http://agcrops.osu.edu/specialists/soil-and-water-management


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