2013 journal article
Effects of drainage water management on crop yields in North Carolina
JOURNAL OF SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION, 68(6), 429–437.
Research studies on a wide range of soils, crops, locations, and climates have shown that drainage water management (DWM), or controlled drainage (CD), can be used to substantially reduce the loss of nitrogen (N), and in some cases, phosphorus (P) from drained agricultural lands to surface waters. The adoption and widespread application of DWM depends on a variety of factors including its impact on crop yields. This paper presents results from a long term field study on the effect of DWM or CD on crop yields in a three-crop, two-year corn/wheat–soybean rotation. Yields were measured on replicated field scale plots under CD and conventional or free drainage (FD) treatments for a total of 18 crops on two experimental sites during the period from 1990 to 2011. Data were collected on 7 corn (<i>Zea mays</i> L.) crops, 5 wheat (<i>Triticum aestivum</i> L.) crops, and 6 soybean (<i>Glycine max</i> L.) crops. Controlled drainage had no significant effect on yields of winter wheat, which in North Carolina is grown in the wettest, coolest part of the year. Controlled drainage increased corn yields compared to FD in all seven years. The average yield increase for corn was 11%. Controlled drainage also increased soybean yield in all years with an average increase of 10% compared to FD. Such yield responses will promote the application of DWM, which will result in both economic and environmental benefits.