Roots in Tile Lines

During the winter and spring of 2016, specialists at Purdue University and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) received numerous reports that roots were clogging tile drains. Other agricultural advisers were hearing similar stories and many were posting and reading about these reports online.

The issue is not common. There are many long-term no-tillers who use cover crops that do not have plugged tile. Farmers who are experiencing this are not seeing it in every tile, so it appears to be site-specific and tied to other factors besides simply no-till with cover crops.

We do not currently have good answers for most of these questions, and other than anecdotal findings, research is limited. We will need research to provide better answers. We have talked with producers, contractors, and drainage engineers; have searched for published information; and have used our experience and knowledge of this year’s conditions, and we think we can offer some possible reasons for what happened and possible solutions in the short-term.

Please watch/listen to the July 8th Webinar Recording and read the June 2016 Factsheet for more information and steps to help identify those reasons.

PDF version of Webinar Presentation. To view as slideshow, left click “view” in the menu bar, then “full screen mode” in the drop-down menu. Speaker notes may be viewed by hovering over “word bubble” in upper left corner of the slide.

Factsheet: Agricultural Tile Drains Clogged With Cover Crop Roots?

Additional Information:
Purdue University Cover Crops Publications
Purdue University Agricultural Drainage Page
Midwest Cover Crops Council