Ag PhD host supports N.D. tiling legislation

BISMARCK—The co-host of a popular agronomy TV show showed his support Thursday for North Dakota farming legislation.

Ag PhD co-host Brian Hefty was among those to testify in favor of House Bill 1459, aimed at easing the process of getting a tiling permit.

Rep. Wes Belter, R-Fargo, said people who apply for a permit must now go through the State Water Commission. However, the growing interest in tiling has created a heavy load for the commission, he said.

Belter, the prime sponsor of the bill, proposes allowing local water boards to handle the permitting process using an application form created by the state. If the local board has questions, it can ask the State Water Commission for its analysis, Belter said.

The amended bill says installation of an artificial subsurface drainage system comprising 80 acres or more requires a permit.

Local water districts may attach any necessary conditions to an approved permit, but may not deny an application unless it’s of statewide significance or the proposed drainage will flood or adversely affect downstream landowners within one mile.

Permit applicants would need to provide a 30-day notice to downstream property owners within one mile of the proposed subsurface drainage. This will allow time for people to voice any concerns, Belter said.

Flowage easements may be required before receiving a permit.

Tiling is underground tubing that allows farmers to remove excess water. Due to the increasing rainfall in North Dakota, more people are interested in tiling, Belter said.

Sen. Terry Wanzek, R-Jamestown, called the bill a “win-win.” The bill isn’t about draining wetlands or established wetlands, he said. It’s about managing water on land already farmed.

“This is huge in agriculture. It’s one of the issues that I’m really excited about this session,” Wanzek said.

In his presentation, Hefty said tiling can mean higher yield and less chance for soil compaction.

It can also allow farmers to plant earlier, reduce situations of getting stuck and equipment breakdowns, reduce salt levels and allow for a more predictable growing season, he said.

He believes there are at least 5 million crop acres in North Dakota that are poorly drained today, costing the state about $1 billion annually.

No one testified against the bill. The House Agriculture Committee did not take immediate action. The Senate has a similar bill.

17 thoughts on “Ag PhD host supports N.D. tiling legislation

  1. It amazes me how these people think it is perfectly OK to put drain tile in there fields. There should be a major class action law suit brought on by everyone that has been flooded out, due to all the farmers who are installing drain tile in there fields. This has to stop.

  2. i agree with the above comment for the most part. People just don’t want to admit that the actions of farmers and other land owners are contributing to recent flooding. established shelter belts being bulldozed, more field drainage, pushing for longer and more “predictable” growing seasons, all of which play a role. the faster fields drain the faster river levels rise and more erosion occurs. what about the lower salt levels in the fields, its gotta go somewhere.right?. how about it goin in our rivers and streams.

  3. Ok folks let’s talk about the whole topic not just selected parts we are fed.
    #1 – It helps ease flooding. Incorrect. A University of Minnesota study shows that tile drainage will increase the length of the flood period. Why? Our soils are frozen when the AgPHD says they will be storing water. If we lived in a southern climate this may be right.

    #2 Phosphates are not a problem. Correct. Phosphates bond with soil particles until the plants need them. However, Nitrates are water soluable and very mobile along with the salts. A current water quality study shows that while variable from field to field Nitrate levels at 12 of 18 sites were higher than maximum human consumption level. The other six sites exceeded recommended levels for rivers. Additionally, 4 sites exceeded max human consumptionn levels for aresenic.

    #3 Mr. Hefty has promoted fraud by posting videos that explained to producers how to kill vegetation with herbicides and break the soil up so the NRCS could not tell it was a wetland and then would allow the tile drain.

    #4 Salts in the discharges make Devils Lake look “fresh”.

    #5 Where does Fargo get its drinking water from?

    Mr. Hefty makes money off tile drainage by charging for How To workshops. A local Wahpeton state legislator owns a tile drainage company and testified in favor of making the restrictions easier. Go figure.

  4. Drain tile does not operate when the ground is frozen, so is not a factor in spring runoff .
    Drain tile lowers the soils excess moisture during times of low flow so when the rains come the soil has more storage capacity lessoning the runoff and reduces the level of rivers.
    Drain tile increases the productivity of land and helps the American farmer feed the world!!!!

    • When you say tiling does not work when the ground is frozen-then why are pumps running 365 days a year 24 hours from the fields around milnor. I am tired with farmers in ND being treated like the scared cow and do no wrong.

      • If the pumps around Milnor are running 24-7 in the winter then those individuals are misguided and making a poor managment decision to do as they are doing nothing but trying to drain an over full aquifer which cannot be done. I really doubt that they are running non stop either unless you have nothing better to do than sit and watch water run for 24 hours straight. The vast majority of drain tile will not have water moving through it in the winter and will not contribute to spring flooding in the least.

        • we have a family farm in SD by SE ND, and its simple, the more they distroy the grass land that hold water back and filter water and reduce erosion(which fills the rivers with dirt,instead of a red river being 20 ft deep,its now 15 ft deep, with more water going in a less deep river) and the tax payers have to pay for a deversion and the farmers get a bailout everyear from the tax payers, for distroying the land. Regarding the pumps going,yes they are running all year round. Plus,all the water that is drained has to go somewhere? right, so lets pass it on to someone else and let the tax payer have to pay for the road raises and infrustructor fixing. I hope some does tax the farmer to court, this is criminal.

  5. Dave – The ground above the tile is frozen – no infiltration and flood storage, however, you make another great point, the ground is not frozen at the tile’s depth, so you have water running into rivers when normally it would not – more water = more flooding.

    The only reason that Tom loves tiling is that it puts more money in his pocket. Neighbors and the environment be damned. What a conservationist. Another huge myth.

    • Yes tiling will put more money in my pocket and I am proud to say that I am able to make wise decisions to do so without harming the enviroment or draining wetlands which are rigidly controled by NRCS. Most tile is placed in areas of the field which never have standing water but remain wet because of the type of soil or factors which prevent the moisture from passing through the soil profile. By reducing the saturated nature of the top 2-3 feet of the soil where the root zone is a good crop can be raised where normally a very poor crop which can’t use the nitrates is usually the result.

      • not true, most of the farmers are draining and tiling ALL the land, got pics, plus when u drain land, that water just don’t disappear, it goes some where,effects someone. Usually tax payers,by flooding roads or towns. Plus you guys get my tax dollars from the farm program/aka bailout. Another question, why can farmers put their water onto federal land(interstate) along the red river valley, and hurt the road bed.?? i thought that was illegal?.

  6. Do you drain tile around your house? And why do you do that? come on people get with it, tiling is going to be the wave of the future up here. It is and will be a great benefit for this state, why should we feel sorry for some idiot that builds in the flood plain and expects everyone else to bail himself out.

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  8. Al – a wave of the future that will make farmers money and cost the rest of us in increased costs to clean the water to drink, plus increases in health costs and flood related costs.

    And I agree with you about the idiot that builds in a floodplain and expects a bailout, why should it be our bill?

    • Jim- If you had the chance to put more money in your pocket, would you take it? Plus its not like tiling is a free thing, there is great cost involved and the positives far exceed the negatives for everyone in our state.

  9. I trully am amazed at how simple minded some people are. I do not own a farm or tiling buisness, but some common sence thinking would go allot further in this argument. When tile is properly installed in a field, and then it rains the water does not just flow right through the soil and into the tile lines, then flood our water ways. It will in fact do just the opposite, the soil will hold the water in the field. Then when the soil becomes 100% saturated it will start releasing excessive water into the tile lines, and this will in fact cause less flooding, erosion, chemical and nutrient run off. So let’s stop waisting time, money, and effort on plain stupidity and start working together on resolving real problems that face our country. Easier said than done, right.

  10. What are the long term projections on the impact of the quanity of tiling currently being installed and the already poor recharge of aquifers in North Dakota. Or is part of this methodology really about trying to mitigate the effect of intensive agricultural practices on affecting the shallow aquifers. Much like the heavy soiled southwestern Minnesota aquifers that have water quality directly related to the change in land use. If its about engineering us out of possible future impacts, then maybe it needs to be addressed in a more thought out manner than short term economic gains. If there was $14 per bushel corn would the farmer be content with less acres? I don’t think our cultural mindset is there.

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