The benefits of a managed drainage system are:
  • Reduction in nitrogen and phosphorous levels
  • Conservation of water
  • Increase in yield
  • Allows a producer to manage the water table level on their terms
  • Offers positive environmental benefits
For the past 40 years, the agriculture industry has used plastic pipe as a drainage solution. Using plastic drainage pipe systems has allowed producers to improve crop yields in areas that were not able to produce as much in the past because of poor drainage. The ever-growing need for more food to feed the world's population coupled with unpredictable weather patterns will continue to motivate the producer to lessen the risk of crop failure due to poor drainage. Simultaneously, these same producers have increased the use of fertilizers. The combination of the increase in fertilizers and drainage intensity has created an unintended consequence - nutrient enriched discharges from the drainage tile lines. Currently, Springfield Plastics, Inc., in conjunction with the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), are now tackling this issue head on by evaluating technologies that will address the nutrient enriched discharges. These technologies are all under the broad term known as "managed drainage".

Managed drainage is simply a method that manages the discharge from a subsurface drainage system. The Golden Rule of Drainage is to only release the amount of water necessary to allow field operations and enable oxygen to reach the plant roots. Any drainage that does more than the golden rule risks discharging excess nutrients into the environment. The common held perception that drainage is just about "getting water away" needs to shift now to how to better manage the drainage of water.

Managed drainage is not a one-solution effort. There are currently three types of technologies in managing drainage: drainage water management systems, bioreactors and saturated buffer strips.

DRAINAGE WATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (DWM)
Manages the timing and amount of water discharged from agricultural drainage systems.
BIOREACTORS
Wood chips in a trench that help to remove nitrogen.
SATURATED BUFFER STRIPS
A control structure that diverts the flow from the outlet to a lateral distribution line.