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Published March 08, 2011, 09:30 AM

ND farmers need drain tile

BOTTINEAU, N.D. — It was wet this past summer when North Dakota’s then-Gov. John Hoeven and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring flew a plane over Bottineau County, N.D. Goehring said at the time someone has the answer for the floodwater in people’s back yards.

By: Norman Glinz,

BOTTINEAU, N.D. — It was wet this past summer when North Dakota’s then-Gov. John Hoeven and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring flew a plane over Bottineau County, N.D. Goehring said at the time someone has the answer for the floodwater in people’s back yards.

I had a tile machine for three years and never have used it. I went to Moorhead, Minn., three years ago to a meeting. They put tile in the ground in Minnesota, where the neighbors work together.

In North Dakota, there is some red tape.

We have to stay 150 feet away from water described as a wetland, or put solid pipe through the wetland, even if it is 20 feet wide.

My 160 acres north of Bottineau, N.D., has five wetlands, 20 to 40 feet wide. These wetlands usually dry up two weeks after they are seeded with grain. The wetlands make extra work seeding around them, using more seed and fertilizer, causing extra expenses for farmers. Corn cannot be planted in a circle, otherwise combine headers will break the corn stalks down.

Minnesotans can put tile in the ground as long as the neighbors agree to the same. It seems like counties and states have their own rules.

Investing in tile

President Obama said in this inaugural address that we need more jobs, have freedom to farm more efficiently and reduce government regulations. Help farms grow more food. We should invest in our future food source, he said.

Installing tile addresses all of his ideas and more. Our crops can be planted 10 days earlier, which would reduce frost damage in fall.

The crops will have more moisture during a drought because the roots go down deeper to the pipe, where there is air and moisture. We will have healthier grain growing.

Standing water in a field where it cannot soak down in the ground leaves sour land — alkali and high pH levels. Crops grow poorly on that kind of soil.

Tile would cause the standing water to go away and would ensure that the soil does not become sour. Using tile lets the water down with air, oxygen, carbon and fertilizer.

More than 3 inches of rain can be stored in the 4- to 6-foot-deep tile that is laid in the ground. This extra moisture can make a much better crop, and the soil warms up two weeks earlier in spring.

In spring 1985, when farmers were busy seeding, Congress passed a law called Swampbuster. Now we cannot use tile because a wetland may drain away water. Water is left in our grain fields for birds. We are supposed to leave our farmland wet. This spoils cropland with poor draining. Two weeks after it is seeded, these small wetlands usually are dried up, and this standing water in a field leaves land with a high pH level, which is called alkali.

Congressional compromise

Former President Reagan would make a deal with his competitors. Can our farmers compromise with our new Congress?

Put drain tile into 50 percent of farmland in North Dakota. It will improve our yield, save our top soil from erosion and have less water runoff. This also will give North Dakota farmers a chance to have early crops and warmer, dryer soil to work with. It will help feed many people.

I am asking people in North Dakota and Bottineau County to write or call one or all of our congressmen. Tell them the farmers would like to have and be able to put drain tile in the ground. It will help slow most soil and water erosion.

Let’s repeal the Swampbuster law of 1985 now. No-till farming has made a big difference in good farming. The same can be said for drain tile. Let’s make our voices heard.

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