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What are different types of field drainage tiles?

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Quick Answer

Different types of field drainage tiles include clay, concrete and corrugated plastic tube. Different types of tile drainage system patterns include parallel, herringbone, double main and random.

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Engineers and farmers began draining farmland in the United States around the first half of the 19th century. Early subsurface drainage systems used clay piping buried under the fields in patterns that allowed excess water to drain. Later, agricultural experts began using a variety of concrete tiles to drain and irrigate fields. Although clay and concrete tiles are still in use, the most common drainage tile systems use PVC, ABS and high-density polyethylene corrugated plastic.

Subsurface field drainage requires specific patterns to work properly. The parallel pattern uses lateral drains that run perpendicular to the main drain. Farmers and engineers use parallel patterns to drain flat, normal shaped fields with uniform soil. Herringbone patterns use parallel laterals that enter the main drain at an acute angle from both sides. This pattern is useful for long, narrow fields.

The double-main system uses a parallel or herringbone pattern with two separate main lines. This allows drainage specialists to drain water from depressed areas and fields with natural waterways cutting through them. A random pattern utilizes different systems to drain fields with undulating topography.

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