What is Controlled Drainage and Subirrigation?

posted 5/4/2023

What is controlled drainage and subirrigation?

One of the most important jobs for a grower is managing water. Some areas of the United States have plenty of rainfall throughout the growing season. Others do not. And still others have too much water at some times of the year and not enough water at others. All of these different farm fields need different water management systems.

Navdeep Singh and Gabriel T. LaHue, who work in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University, focus on solutions for growers whose fields experience dry periods during the growing season. They already have drain tiles installed under the field – which were put in for wet seasons. This is important because limited soil moisture can reduce crop yield, especially if water is limited during key plant growth stages. The team is working on systems that can respond to varying rainfall patterns during the growing season:

  • removing excess water from field;
  • conserving existing soil moisture; and,
  • pumping supplemental water into the field to raise water table.

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