Perhaps counterintuitive, but interesting
January 9, 2013
Lots of farm fields in Iowa have drainage tile
systems, which help carry away excess stormwater in order to prevent fields of crops from turning into marshes (much of the state used to be covered in natural wetlands
). But in a drought year like 2012, one would intuitively expect that drainage tile might have injured crops by taking away moisture. But a story in the Cedar Rapids Gazette
suggests that tiled fields tended to have better crop yields than comparable non-tiled fields, possibly because the tiling systems may have encouraged the crops to grow better root systems.
Tiling and other drainage practices remain somewhat contentious, though, since they may encourage the runoff of nutrients into waterways
-- which may in turn contribute to high nitrate levels in raw sources of drinking water.