Miner Institute lands $330,000 grant

Miner Institute has been awarded a $330,000 research grant from the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) to monitor surface runoff and tile drainage effluent from two corn fields.

The objective of the research is to evaluate the agronomic and water quality differences between a freely tile-drained cornfield (FD) and an adjacent tile-drained cornfield that will utilize controlled drainage (CD). The project will quantify the tradeoff between surface runoff and tile drainage runoff in two cornfields managed as either FD or CD.

The first stage of the project will be a two year period to monitor baseline levels, followed by the implementation of the CD treatment on one of the fields. The CD and FD fields will then be continuously monitored for the next four years in order to compare corn silage yield/quality, water and nutrient fluxes and overall efficiency.

Tile drainage refers to the practice of installing a network of perforated pipes two to four feet below the soil surface to aid in removing excess water from agricultural fields.

It has been a key management practice for more than 100 years due to its ability to offer multiple agronomic and environmental benefits. However, under certain conditions, tile drainage may accelerate the loss of certain nutrients and site specific practices may be needed to reduce losses to surface waters.

Controlled drainage is a management option intended to address the agronomic and environmental concerns of these losses.

Although neighboring Vermont has had an edge-of-field runoff monitoring program for several years, the project at Miner Institute will be the first one in NY. Results from this project will provide important information on the effectiveness of tile drainage as both an agronomic and environmental best management practice under poorly drained conditions, says Miner Institute Agronomist and project leader, Eric Young.

Project results will also help evaluate NY’s new conservation practice standard for edge-of-field monitoring. For further information, contact Eric Young (young@whminer.com).

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