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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Clean Water Fund > On-Farm Projects > Red River Valley DWM

Red River Valley Drainage Water Management

PROJECT GOAL: Minimize the environmental impacts of subsurface drainage while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity.

PROJECT OBJECTIVE: Demonstrate drainage water management (DWM) as a flood mitigation practice and its water quality and quantity benefits. 

Drainage Water Management is shown using a series of three illustrations.  A tile drain runs underground and is connected to an outlet to control outflow.  First image:  After harvest the outlet is raised to reduce nitrate delivery.  Second Image:  Before planting or harvest the outlet is lowered to allow the field to drain more fully.  Image 3:  After planting the outlet is raised to potentially store water for crops.  Illustration credit:  Dr. Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University.What is DWM?

Drainage water management (DWM) or controlled drainage, helps producers manage water on their fields.  This practice can increase crop production, keep nutrients on the field and send cleaner water downstream.

Producers control the water by raising or lowering the elevation of underground drainage.  Water can temporarily be held back within the root zone for later use by the crop or it can be released to drain the field for planting.

View a video of the DWM process and benefits.

Why the Red River Valley?

The Red River Valley, in northwestern Minnesota, has experienced an increasing amount of subsurface (tile) drain installation. Subsurface drainage is common in other areas of the state, however it is becoming more widespread in this region. This project allows regional farmers to see how DWM works in their own "backyard".

Project Details

Project partners are evaluating drainage water management on operating farms in the Red River Valley.  Additional information, including study design and monitoring, can be found in the project factsheet below.  

Red River Valley Drainage Water Management Project Factsheet (PDF:  565 KB / 2 pages)Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment logo


This project is a unique collaborative effort between landowners, multiple government agencies, agricultural businesses and the University of Minnesota.


MDA Contact

Jeppe Kjaersgaard
Research Scientist
Jeppe.Kjaersgaard@state.mn.us ~ 651-201-6149