USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded a $2.2 million grant to the National Corn Growers Association and other groups to study impacts of drainage water management.

Besides NCGA, grant recipients include the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition, the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, the University of Illinois, Purdue University, Ohio State University and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

“We’re happy the money is available to research drainage management,” said Bill Chase, chairman of the NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team. “This is an important issue for agriculture. Now we can compare drainage projects throughout several states and determine future best management practices for farmers in the Corn Belt.”

The grant will allow farmers and researchers to study management practices that control subsurface drains to better conserve water and reduce nutrient loss. The project will examine yield effects and pollution reduction and develop management recommendations for Midwestern farmers.

The demonstration projects will utilize the latest technologies, including satellite-controlled water level monitor structures that farmers will be able to control using Web-based applications, according to Merlyn Carlson, USDA deputy undersecretary for natural resources and conservation.

“This grant will help our organization develop management recommendations for farmers, as well as quantify the yield impacts of this practice,” said Tade Sullivan, executive director of ADMC. “We are fortunate to have a distinguished group of research partners and to be able to engage producers directly in developing the recommendations.”

Drainage water management holds a great deal of promise for corn growers because research has shown a 30 to 50 percent reduction in nitrate, a contributor to hypoxia.