to Drain Your Land
What are the benefits of tile drainage?
- Tile drained land will lower your unit cost of production and help you compete in the
- Tile drainage is a best management practice. It reduces soil erosion and assists
in the reduction of phosphorus in streams.
- The benefits of land drainage are many and depend on the condition and management of the
farm after the work is done.
- For corn and soybeans - expect about 35 - 50% increase in yield compared to the same
crops in undrained soil.
- For hay and pasture expect about a 30% increase in yield.
- Grazing periods are extended two to three weeks in the fall, thus saving on barn
- Well-drained soils carry more livestock per acre with less damage to the soil compared
to poorly drained soil.
- Tile drained soils create uniform field conditions for early field work.
- Tile drained soils are essential for no-till agriculture on any soil type.
What will it cost to drain my land?
The following tables may be of assistance in making a preliminary estimate of the
quantity of drainage pipe required for a drainage project.
The table gives the size of main drain required to drain an area, when the drain is
laid at a specified grade and is flowing full. For example, an 8-inch drainage pipe, laid
at a grade of 0.10 feet per 100 feet will drain 16 acres. Your LICO contractor will
provide the information for a specific situation.
Acreage Drained by a Main Drain Laid at a Specified Grade
Tile Size (inches)
Pipe with a smooth interior wall will drain
a 20% greater acreage.
The number of feet of drainage pipe you will need in order to drain a certain area can
be estimated from the following table. Your LICO contractor will discuss the actual need
Length of Lateral Drainage Pipe Needed to Drain One Acre at a Given Drain Spacing
|Lateral Drain Spacing & Drainage Pipe Required
Main drains often add 10% to the total pipe
Local experience will help determine the cost for drainage work. Ask your LICO
contractor to provide an itemized estimate of costs and provide a list of your
Some of the cost may be:
- surveying the field
- layout of the job
- moving onto the job
- installing the drain pipe
- cost of pipe, fittings, outlet pipes, filter material, catch basins and inlets.
Additional items may include:
- locating existing drain tile
- locating buried utilities
- repairing fencing and other items
- clean-up including stone removal
- needed permits
Some of the above may not be required, or, are not itemized in the pricing. Your
LICO Contractor will answer all questions reasonably and do the work as agreed upon, at a
FAIR PRICE for the results wanted.
A contractor cannot always determine in advance all the problems that might be
encountered in the field and which could affect the final cost.
Click here to see A View of Drainage Costs from Country
Guide, March 1998.
How can I pay for it?
Your LICO Contractor can advise you on financing. The Tile Drainage Act provides
a loan for up to 75% of the cost of the work. The loan is financed by the Ontario
Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) and is obtained through your
local municipal office.
How can I find a good drainage
LICO Contractors have their business, machines and operators licensed through
The Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario provide ongoing training and
professional development for their members. Ensure you select a licensed
contractor who is a LICO Contractor! Click here to see LICO Contractors.
Also ask the contractor:
- To explain when and how he proposes to do the work?
- Does he guarantee his workmanship? For how long?
- Does he carry adequate liability insurance to protect you?
- Will he provide you with a plan of the work after completion?
Can I do the work myself?
As long as you only work on land that you own (or have under long term
lease) you do not need a license and can do the work yourself. But why
would you want to?
You are investing a lot of money in the job and the new equipment. You
must be confident that you have the ability to construct a system that
will work for you. It is not easy. The price of fuel, labour, drain pipe,
junctions and other parts of the system cost about the same. There is no
saving to you. The cost of installing the pipe varies across the province.
Contractors receive about 40 percent of the total cost per acre for the
Drainage contractors produce a professional job at a fair price. The
reason you might consider doing the work yourself is certainly not to save
money, it may be getting the work done at a time convenient to yourself.
With planning and scheduling this problem should also be overcome.
Laser equipped mini-drainage plows, pulled with a tractor, are
available. These machines are well built but often require more pulling
power (traction, hydraulic capacity and speed adjustment) than the farmer
usually owns, or extensive pre-ripping of the trench line may be needed.
Main drains using larger pipe are also a problem. There is an extensive
learning period to instal drains which will perform properly. Would you
want an inexperienced contractor to drain your land? How do you plan to
recover your investment in the machine? For more information see Pull-behind
farm drainage plows.
What can I do to protect my drainage
investment after installation?
- Design the system for future additions.
- Insist on a proper plan of the work, a statement of work performed and a list of
- Arrange to have the drainage system inspected and maintained each fall and spring on a
Remember, land drainage is a