Optimizing Economic Returns in Drainage Design

by Larry D. Geohring, Cornell Univ, Ithaca, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Irrigation and Drainage: Saving a Threatened Resource—In Search of Solutions


Soil wetness is a limitation to high agricultural productivity in Northern New York (NNY) where some 325,000 ha of cropland require drainage treatment. Drainage is needed for trafficability and soil aeration. Both corn and forage yields can be improved in the region with more intensive drainage (Geohring and Steenhuis, 1987) and an estimated 19,000 ha have been drained. Wackernagel, et al. (1979) determined an investment in tiling was profitable for the region's dairy farms because it increased the manager's flexibility. However, many landowners are hesitant to make improvements because of the required investment. Perhaps too much focus on drainage designs which maximize yield, rather than net profits, results in expensive systems and less technology adoption. This paper will show that using generalized design criteria results in subsurface drain spacing recommendations which may not optimize profits.

Subject Headings: Profits | Economic factors | Drainage | Hydraulic design | Soil treatment | Investments | Optimization models | Subsurface drainage | United States | New York | Alabama

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