Choice of a drainage system

The choice between surface and subsurface drainage systems is dependent on
topographic, soil- and water-related factors:

Topographic Factors
O Availability of natural outlet: Subsurface _________ Surface __________
O Slope :

Subsurface _________ Surface __________

Soil-related Factors
O Hydraulic conductivity :

Subsurface _________ Surface __________

O Soil profile:

The thickness of the soil profile and of the individual horizons
influences the choice of a drainage systems. Other considerations include the
presence of layers with restrictive drainage (argillic horizon, clay pan,
petrocalcic horizon, etc.) or layers with extremely high conductivity

Water-related Factors
O Source of excess water :

Excess water from irrigation may be removed with
either surface or subsurface drainage systems. Excess water from irrigation
applications require the use of subsurface drainage systems. If the excess water
in the root zone results from upward seepage from groundwater, subsurface
drainage systems are indicated.

Components of subsurface drainage systems
O Laterals: Collects water from surrounding soil. The region of influence of a

lateral is dependent on the soil and on the spacing of the laterals.
O Main Drains: Primarily used to transport collected water to outlets. In some

systems, mains are perforated and, therefore, also act as collection units.

O Outlet: Drains can outlet into open channels or other drains. O Gridiron or Parallel: Used to draw large flat or uniformly sloping areas. Laterals are typically long and empty into a main that follows the low line of the draw or swale. The laterals enter the main from only one side. These systems have fewer junctions than herringbone systems and are generally more economical. the water has to be pumped up to the outlet level. If the mains are below the level of the outlet. Subsurface Drainage Patterns O Natural or Random: Primarily for drainage of small or isolated wet areas 90 91 90 93 92 92 93 O Herringbone: Drainage of concave or natural draw topography. 92 91 90 . The laterals are parallel and need not be perpendicular to the main.

remain curved. and can be extruded in long lengths. Water enters tile lines through the spaces between adjacent tiles.O Cutoff or Inceptor: Collects groundwater before it seeps onto the soil surface. float. Usually the wall thickness is about 1/12th of the internal diameter. Typically these drains have an expected life of 1. and have greater hydraulic roughness than clay or concrete tiles. However. are durable. O Mole drains: These are cylindrical channels plowed into the soil. thereby removing seepage areas from slopes. they are susceptible to damage by rodent. Water enters the drain through slots or perforations. easy to join and handle. Water table Tile r ous laye Imp ervi S ee re a py a Tile soil Clay pan or tight sub Drain Materials O Clay or concrete tile: Cylindrical tiles. O Corrugated Plastic Tubing (CPT): Most of the drains being installed in agricultural fields are made of CPT.25 inches. 1 foot in length. . CPT drains weigh about 1/25th of equivalent clay or concrete drains.125 to 0. Drains are sometimes covered with a fabric sock to prevent the inflow of small particles.5 years. These drains are either made of high density polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. This method is only suitable for some soils (clayey soils). with diameters ranging from 3 to 24 inches. The space ranges from 0. resistant to soil chemicals.

Typical procedure for designing a drainage system consist of 1. As such. lateral spacing. Exact solutions of the equation tend to be very complicated and not worth the extra effort. and topography. Depths generally range from 2. Most of the depth and spacing equations are based on some approximation of the theory of groundwater flow. and 4. additionally. limitations of trenching equipment. . Selecting a suitable depth based on existing constrains. amount and frequency of rainfall. Drain spacing equations are based on approximate mathematical solutions to the two dimensional Laplace equation.5 ft (80 cm) to 8 ft (250 cm). depth to impermeable layer. seepage. Depth is measured from the soil surface to the bottom of the drainage pipe. while the depth of laterals are dependent on soil permeability. Wider spacing can be used if drains are placed deeper. The objective is to provide an adequate root zone depth midway between the tile lines. Selecting a drainage rate or water table height 2. they are empirical in nature and should only be applied if the underlying assumptions are approximately satisfied. Computing spacing. Equations for depth and spacing are based either on steady-state or transient flow conditions. At least 2 ft (60 cm) of cover is needed above the drains to protect them from agricultural practices. The depths of mains are affected by outlet conditions and topography. transient flow events may be represented by a consecutive series of steady-state flow events. depth of main.Depth and Spacing Depth and spacing are interrelated. Estimating or measuring hydraulic conductivity and other soil properties 3. Steady-state conditions are preferred since they are easier to analyze and.

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