‘Tile Drainage’ Out, ‘water Management’ In?

Tile drainage seems to confuse a lot of people outside agriculture.  In my experience, some  folks use it to describe all field drainage, when in fact it’s a specific type of drainage. I’ve tried to explain to these folks exactly what tile drainage is, but it doesn’t seem to do much good.

I talked recently with a farmer I first met several years ago when I was doing a story on tile drainage. In our recent conservation, he mentioned our first meeting. He also mentioned that he now tries to avoid the term “tile drainage” and prefers to use “water management.”

My guess, and that’s all it is, is that more farmers will talk about “water management” instead of “tile drainage” in the months and years ahead. My guess is that they view “water management” as less emotionally charged. Given my own lack of success getting non-farmers to understand tile drainage, I can understand why farmers would want to use a different term.

If case you don’t know, tile draining involves installing underground pipes in fields to regulate subsurface water and help plant roots develop properly, improving yields. Tile drainage originally used short lengths of clay pipes known as tiles. Plastic tubing with small perforations are used now. Excess subsurface moisture slowly flows into the tubing and is taken to a ditch or other outlet.