Farmers to learn keys to sub-surface drainage to combat waterlogging

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Stirlings to Coast Farmers will host a Sub-Surface Drainage Field Day today to show farmers how they can combat waterlogging.

The event coincides with the start of a Grain Research and Development Corporation and STCF sub-surface drainage trial in Cranbrook.

Stirlings to Coast smart farm coordinator Phillip Honey said the project was particularly relevant because land prices were high and more farmers were looking to increase profitability on their land.

“With the land prices, farmers can’t necessarily afford to buy more land, so we want to be more effective and productive with what we have got,” he said.

“There was a lot of research done on this roughly 20 years ago and what really inhibited the uptake of it was the cost of it.

“The premise behind this project is to show these farmers this technique, which can be used to manage water.

“Now, we also have some economics behind it to say this is what it costs today, rather than numbers 20 years ago.”

The drainage method involves a pipe with slits being laid into a deep trench dug by a machine.

Limestone rubble is then laid over the top.

Farmers will be shown how to implement the method, measure yield benefits and work out economic feasibility.

Mr Honey said waterlogging was common in the high rainfall areas such as Frankland River, west Kendenup and west Cranbrook.

“Waterlogging can cause quite a few issues with crop production, firstly yield penalties, as plants can’t grow and yield as much,” he said.

While the project is only addressing waterlogging issues, he said the drainage method could also be used to combat salinity.

There will be a live demonstration with the machine at the field day, with sub-surface drainage experts available for questions.

Follow-up workshops in the next three years will lead to a results presentation scheduled for 2024.

The field day starts at 3.30pm today at 1707 Yeriminup Road, Cranbrook.

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