Like many no-tillers, Ben Fehl has seen the value of tiling both rented and owned ground. Major benefits from tiling include increased yield, less soil compaction, improved soil and water quality, reduced soil erosion and greater economic return.
As a result, Fehl purchased a tile plow several years ago and has used it mainly for improving drainage on rented land.
“Our landlords have been very accommodating in regard to the importance and value of tile,” says Fehl, who no-tills and strip-tills with his father, Dean, and brother, Brandt, near La Porte City, Iowa.
As was the case with the Fehl family, more no-tillers are having discussions with landowners about the many benefits of tiling. As more farmland is owned by non-farmers who are two or three generations away from farming, landlords need more education on the value of effective drainage.
In a 25-year drainage study conducted by Ohio State University researchers, adding tile to a Hoytville silty clay soil boosted corn yields by 30%. This equates to taking a 135-bushel per acre farm to 175 bushels. With $4 per bushel for corn, that amounts to a $160 gain in gross revenue per year from investing in tiling.
Almost 2 years ago, Ohio State University ag economist Brian Roe surveyed 161 farmers in the northwestern part of the state as to the impact of drainage and soil types on rental rates. Farmers were asked to provide data on problem fields where runoff was a likely concern.