Land Drainage - A farmer’s practical guide to draining grassland in Ireland
Soil test pit
Drainage system maintenance
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CitationTuohy, Patrick et al. Land Drainage – a farmer’s practical guide to draining grassland in Ireland: Moorepark Dairy Levy Research Update Series 20. Teagasc – Agricultural & Food Development Authority, July 2013
AbstractNo drainage work should be carried out before the drainage characteristics of the soil are established by a site and soil test pit investigation. • Two types of drainage system exist: a groundwater drainage system and a shallow drainage system. The design of the system depends entirely on the drainage characteristics of the soil. • Distinguishing between the two types of drainage systems essentially comes down to whether or not a permeable layer is present (at a workable depth) that will allow the flow of water with relative ease. If such a layer is evident, a piped drain system at that depth is likely to be effective. If no such layer is found during soil test pit investigations, it will be necessary to improve the drainage capacity of the soil. This involves a disruption technique such as moling, gravel moling or subsoiling in tandem with collector drains. • Drains are not effective unless they are placed in a free draining soil layer or complimentary measures (mole drainage, subsoiling) are used to improve soil drainage capacity. If water is not moving through the soil in one or other of these two ways, the water table will not be lowered. • Outfall level must not dictate the drainage system depth. If a free draining layer is present, it must be utilised. • Drain pipes should always be used for drains longer than 30 m. If these get blocked it is a drainage stone and not a drainage pipe issue. • Drainage stone should not be filled to the top of the field trench except for very limited conditions (the bottom of an obvious hollow). Otherwise it is an extremely expensive way of collecting little water. • Most of the stone being used for land drainage today is too big. Clean aggregate in the 10–40 mm (0.4 to 1.5 inch approx) grading band should be used. Generally you get what you pay for. • Subsoiling is not effective unless a shallow impermeable layer is being broken or field drains have been installed prior to the operation. Otherwise it will not have any long-term effect and may do more harm than good. • Most land drainage systems are poorly maintained. Open drains should be clean and as deep as possible and field drains feeding into them should be regularly rodded or jetted.
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Compositional Changes in the Hydrophobic acids fraction of Drainage Water from Different Land Management PracticesByrne, Corinna M. P.; Hayes, Michael M. B.; Kumar, Rajeev; Novotny, Etelvino H.; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Fay, Deirdre; Simpson, Andre J. (Elsevier B. V., 2010-08)Dissolved organic matter (DOM) can play a key role in many environmental processes, including carbon cycling, nutrient transport and the fates of contaminants and of agrochemicals. Hydrophobic acids (Ho), the major components of the DOM, were recovered from the drainage waters from well-drained (WDS) and poorly-drained (PDS) Irish grassland soils in lysimeters, amended with N fertiliser (F) and with bovine urine (U) and were studied using 1D and 2D solution-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The Diffusion Edited (DE) 1H NMR spectra indicated that the Ho consisted largely of larger molecules, or of molecules that formed rigid aggregates, and the 1D and the 2D (Heteronuclear Multiple Quantum Coherence – HMQC, the Total Correlation Spectroscopy – TOCSY, and the Nuclear Overhauser Effect – NOESY) spectra indicated that the samples were composed of lignin residues, carbohydrates, protein/peptides, and aliphatic components derived from plant waxes/cuticular materials and from microbial lipids. The F amendments increased the concentrations of Ho in the waters by 1.5 and 2.5 times those in the controls in the cases of WDS and PDS, respectively. The lignin-derived components were increased by 50% and 300% in the cases of the Ho from the WDS and PDS, respectively. Applications of F + U decreased the losses of Ho, (compared to the F amendments alone) and very significantly decreased those of the lignin-derived materials, indicating that enhanced microbial activity from U gave rise to enhanced metabolism of the Ho components, and especially of lignin. In contrast the less biodegradable aliphatic components containing cuticular materials increased as the result of applications of F + U. This study helps our understanding of how management practices influence the movement of C between terrestrial and aquatic environments.
Visual drainage assessment: A standardised visual soil assessment method for use in land drainage design in IrelandTuohy, P.; Humphreys, James; Holden, N.M.; O'Loughlin, James; Reidy, B.; Fenton, Owen T. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 20/08/2016)The implementation of site-specific land drainage system designs is usually disregarded by landowners in favour of locally established ‘standard practice’ land drainage designs. This is due to a number of factors such as a limited understanding of soil–water interactions, lack of facilities for the measurement of soil’s physical or hydrological parameters and perceived time wastage and high costs. Hence there is a need for a site-specific drainage system design methodology that does not rely on inaccessible, time-consuming and/or expensive measurements of soil physical or hydrological properties. This requires a standardised process for deciphering the drainage characteristics of a given soil in the field. As an initial step, a new visual soil assessment method, referred to as visual drainage assessment (VDA), is presented whereby an approximation of the permeability of specific soil horizons is made using seven indicators (water seepage, pan layers, texture, porosity, consistence, stone content and root development) to provide a basis for the design of a site-specific drainage system. Across six poorly drained sites (1.3 ha to 2.6 ha in size) in south-west Ireland a VDA-based design was compared with (i) an ideal design (utilising soil physical measurements to elucidate soil hydraulic parameters) and (ii) a standard design (0.8 m deep drains at a 15 m spacing) by model estimate of water table control and rainfall recharge/drain discharge capacity. The VDA method, unlike standard design equivalents, provided a good approximation of an ideal (from measured hydrological properties) design and prescribed an equivalent land drainage system in the field. Mean modelled rainfall recharge/drain discharge capacity for the VDA (13.3 mm/day) and ideal (12.0 mm/day) designs were significantly higher (P < 0.001, s.e. 1.42 mm/day) than for the standard designs (0.5 mm/day), when assuming a design minimum water table depth of 0.45 m.
Effect of an agri-environmental measure on nitrate leaching from a beef farming system in IrelandRichards, Karl G.; Jahangir, M.M.R.; Drennan, Michael J; Lenehan, J.J.; Connolly, J.; Brophy, C.; Carton, Owen T. (Elsevier, 07/01/2015)Agricultural nitrogen (N) management remains a key environmental challenge. Improving N management is a matter of urgency to reduce the serious ecological consequences of the reactive N. Nitrate (NO3−–N) leaching was measured under suckler beef production systems stocked at two intensities: (1) intensive, 210 kg organic N ha−1 with two cut silage harvests; and (2) rural environmental protection scheme (REPS), 170 kg organic N ha−1 with one cut silage harvest. Three replicate plots of each treatment were instrumented with ceramic cups (8 per plot), randomly placed within each plot at a depth of 1 m to collect soil solution for NO3−–N at 50 kPa suction to collecting vessels one week prior to sampling. Samples were taken on a total of 53 sampling dates over 3 winter drainage periods (2002/03, 2003/04 and 2004/05). Over the course of the experiment the mean annual soil solution NO3−–N concentration exceeded the MAC twice out of 15 means (5 treatments over 3 years). The REPS grazing and silage sub treatments had significantly lower mean annual soil solution total oxidized N (TON) concentrations than the respective intensive treatments in years 2 and 3. Annual total NO3−–N losses over the three years in intensive and REPS systems ranged from 55 to 71 and 15 to 20 kg N ha−1, respectively. Mean N surpluses in intensive and REPS systems were 210 and 95 kg ha−1, respectively with the corresponding mean N inputs of 272 and 124 kg N ha−1. The reduction in N inputs under the REPS system results in lower N leaching losses and contributed to a significant reduction in pressures on water quality.