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University of Minnesota Extension

Evaluating a subsurface drainage project and its alternatives

Pursuing an agricultural drainage project may seem like a straightforward economic analysis, but this often isn’t the case. Before proceeding, thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate your drainage project.

For example, consider all costs and benefits, probable efficacy and potential environmental impacts, such as changes in streamflow, nitrate loss to surface water and wildlife habitat loss. Also investigate the alternatives to artificial drainage, to determine if they’re applicable for your site.

Regardless of which course you choose, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and ditch inspector to ensure you’re complying with the rules and regulations.

How to evaluate drainage projects


Brad Carlson, Extension educator and Gary R. Sands, Extension engineer


This work is sponsored, in part, by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and their check-off.

Photos provided by Brad Carlson.

Reviewed in 2018

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