Tiling

by Staff Writer - A. Heinzman | June 14, 2012

Tiling refers to the systematic drainage systems found within agricultural fields. The use of tiling within fields allows soils to release water at a faster rate. This release of water promotes crop growth for field sites originally not conducive for optimum crop development.

Field tiling was known to the ancients as noted in historical references from 200 BCE. In modern times, a man by the name of John Johnston developed modern field tiling. In 1938 Johnston installed approximately 72 miles of clay tile on his 320-acre Upstate New York farm. The effects of improved drainage resulted in Johnston's wheat yields increasing from 12 to 60 bushels per acre. Johnston became an expert in field tile drainage systems was instrumental in the adoption of tiling across the United States. Originally, field drainage systems used short tubes made of clay tile, hence the name. These short pieces of tube were laid end-to-end and buried in a trench dug beneath a field. Various sections of clay tile were interconnected to form a networked drainage system. The practice of tiling continues to this day with modern plastic tubing taking the place of the traditional clay tile.

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