Older Tile Lines May Need Replacing

Dry fall could offer opportunity for tiling.

Published on: Oct 4, 2012

Sometimes the wrong thing to do based on what just happened may be the best thing you could do. For example, why would tiling sound like the right thing to do after a stressful year when the best corn grew in areas that pond out in two years out of five?

The answer is obvious – it was basically the driest, hottest stretch through the reproductive period for corn in most of Indiana in 75 years. Make decisions based on long-term odds, not one-time wonders, even though there wasn’t much wonder about 2012.

If those soils that sometimes pond or flood out were your best soils this year, think how much more you could net in those fields if they raised a crop every year. Perhaps they need tiling. That may be true even if they have been tiled in the past.

Partial plug: Note dirt going back up in the tile. It was obviously already there before the tile was broken while digging a soil judging pit.
Partial plug: Note dirt going back up in the tile. It was obviously already there before the tile was broken while digging a soil judging pit.

A volunteer digging pits for soils judging practice for his local chapter broke two clay tile lines in one field recently. He made several observations. First, the tile lines weren’t that deep, about 24 inches. Today, plastic tile is typically laid at a deeper depth.

Second, one of the lines was completely plugged with dirt on both sides of the pit, and it wasn’t due to soil from the pit. The line was plugged and hasn’t worked in some time.

The other tile line in a different part of the field was at least partially plugged. It wasn’t carrying water now, even after 10 inches in the last six weeks. Then the naturally poorly drained soil still was dry when the hole was dug all the way to four feet. There’s a ways to go before most soils are recharged before next growing season.

These were round tile, which means they may have been installed with a trenching machine that installs clay tile. It could be time to consider updating tile drainage in that field.