Water Gate gives full water control
The newest in a line of technological advances in underground water management could significantly speed the use of smart drainage systems. It’s called the Water Gate.
What makes the Water Gate attractive is that it’s automatic, float-operated, easy to handle and install, built to last, and most importantly, completely buried so there’s no interference with field operations.
The Water Gate is one of a number of controls used to raise and lower water tables in crop fields. Used as designed in a series, it stair-steps water levels up through the soil profile in 1-foot increments.
Where to use the device
“You use the Water Gate, or a series of them, upstream of a water level control structure,” says Charlie Schafer, president of Agri Drain in Adair.
“The gate is float-operated. When you’re draining the field, water flows through the open gate,” Schafer says. “When you want to hold water in the soil profile, you adjust your logs in the water level structure below, and water backs up into the valve. The float rises and closes the gate.”
The controlled drainage system starts with a water level control structure at the lowest point of the drainage system, Schafer says. Each Water Gate inserted in a tile line above the structure raises the water level in the soil profile upstream by another foot when it’s closed.
“We’re very excited about how extensively these could be used, Schafer says. “Water Gates are used most on flatter slopes, because each gate controls more drainage area on flat slopes,” he says.
But Schafer says the gates might also be the first choice on rolling land. That’s because the gates are less expensive and easier to install and maintain than a water level control structure.
And since they’re inserted into the tile line similar to an oversized tile and buried, there’s nothing sticking out of the ground to have to farm around or interfere with field operations.
Tested for 2 years
The Water Gates have been tested for the past two years, but this is the first year Agri Drain has offered them in its catalog. They’re available from local drainage contractors or Agri Drain directly. Schafer says extended wear tests run out to 50 years saw virtually no wear.
“We think it’s going to have a very long life,” He says. “If you use these gates with automatic water level control structures, you could control the water depths over your entire drainage system, at infinitely variable depths, from your desktop computer.”
This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.