Benefits of tile drainage are inarguable


Hooray for tile!

Now that’s something you don’t hear too often from people these days. Seems over the last decade or so in certain quarters that tile drainage is viewed as some sort of menace to society in our politically correct world. In fact, you might wonder, has it become a four letter word ?

If you subscribe to this notion, you may want to turn to another page right now. For those who choose to read on, welcome aboard ! We can thank the last glacier for leaving us all our wonderful clay-influenced soils around here and we can thank mother nature for giving us 35-40 inches of rain a year.

Regional difficulties

Our ancestors tried all sorts of methods to reduce the water table they had to deal with or they just moved on. I wonder if they thought they were living in the mud capital of the world. It would seem logical that farming in these conditions had to be frustrating and still is. No wonder so many people came west to Ohio and kept right on going to drier places.

Since those days, we have learned much about tiling and the benefits offered. In fact, ASCS-USDA at one time used to cost share with farmers to install five acres to see the differences first hand. OSU Extension research confirms and reconfirms yield increases of 25-30 percent compared to fields lacking tile.

I think farmer testimonials from before and after tiling would convince most reasonable folks that it really works and is necessary. There have been debates over the years regarding whether tile should go in deeper or shallower. There have been debates over the years regarding whether tile should be spaced 50 feet apart or closer.


Field conditions, due to soils, really determine specific answers here. The general consensus now is 25 feet to 40 feet of spacing and generally 18 to 36 inches deep. Once again, depending on your soil types and conditions.

The most efficient method is a systematic drainage system with a good open outlet. This catches the swales, the entire field and the up-hill wet seeps. When started only doing the low spots, what is left in the field always seems wetter and yields vary.

Dean Swigart, the former SCS technician in Richland County, taught me and many farmers it is always best to farm across your tile lines rather than farming in line with your tile lines. Excellent advice.

To those naysayers out there in the politically correct world, before you bash someone trying to make a living with tile drainage as part of their farm management operation, this spring think about where your own home foundation drain water is collected and drained away from your home.

There is a reason that sump pump is in your basement. Think about the gutter and downspout system on your house that is drained away from your house through a tile to an outlet. Think about the viability of your home staying much drier and the investment in your home which otherwise would make your property much less valuable.

Even the roads we drive on are much longer lasting if the tile drainage underneath the roads has adequate drainage and proper open outlets.


I think the naysayers need to re-evaluate their politically correct thoughts about tile today. Don’t complain about farmers tiling and keeping good outlets and then forget your own residence is reliant on good drainage around the house. This seems hypocritical to me. ( Do you think they kept reading ?)

I say “hooray for tile”!


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Jeff is the District Manager for the Medina SWCD since 2006. Before that he was an area representative with the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation through out Northeast Ohio for most of his career. He worked closely with District Boards of Supervisors and staffs on programs and capacity building.


  1. It’s good to know about the effectiveness of farm tiling and that it can ensure an equally wet field. My husband and I are thinking of moving out to the countryside and starting a farm of my own. If farm tiling and drainage is as good as you say, then I just can’t say no to that. I’ll be sure to look up how much it’ll cost us so that we can prepare the money before we head out for a more peaceful life away from the city.


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