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The ADMS Task Force focuses on eight states. In this area, the Task Force works with farmers, advisors, contractors, and industry to implement agricultural drainage management systems. Technical guidance is provided through the NRCS eFOTG, the Practice 554 document and accompanying technical note on Agricultural Drainage Water Management, and State Extension Bulletins.
ADMS Task Force Fact Sheet
ADMS Task Force Brochure



Notes for the April 2012 Meeting

Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force (ADMSTF) A Partnership Group that Promotes and Implements Drainage Management Systems on Cropland in the Mississippi River Basin to Improve Water Quality of Drainage Flows
James L. Fouss and Michael Sullivan
World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2009: Great Rivers © 2009 ASCE


The ADMS Task Force maintains an email list for all information related to the Task Force and its work. For more information or to subscribe, go to:



Managing Drainage for Better Water Quality

The Midwest is home to some of the most productive agricultural lands in the nation. These lands include more than 50 million acres of surface and subsurface drained cropland. Current research shows that nitrogen is being transported from these Midwest fields into waterways, creating economic, environmental, and human health concerns downstream. The ADMS Task Force is a national effort to improve drainage practices to reduce adverse impacts while enhancing crop production and conserving water.

The Role of the ADMS Task Force

The focus of the ADMS Task Force is to work with farmers, contractors, and agricultural advisors to:

  • Implement improved agricultural surface and subsurface drainage in both new and retrofitted systems.

  • Reduce nitrate loads in drain outflow, a major source of poor stream water quality and hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

  • Improve efficiency of production and economic returns through managed surface and subsurface agricultural drainage

Implementation of managed drainage practices (NRCS Practice 554) in the Midwest began in 2004. Using demonstration sites, the Task Force educates local sponsors and farmers and works with them to implement managed drainage on their own land.

What is Hypoxia?

Major river basins of the Mississippi River watershed

Hypoxia means low oxygen. Waters that are hypoxic can only support a few organisms that can live with very little oxygen. The hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused by upstream nitrogen loads, primarily from fertilizer, and affects the gulf regionís ecosystems and economy. Nitrogen and phosphorus from upstream sources promote growth of algae and zooplankton in the Gulf waters. When these organisms die and decompose, the process consumes oxygen. Low oxygen in deeper waters drives away fish and kills non-mobile organisms.

Mississippi River Basin EPA web-site: http://www.epa.gov/msbasin/index.htm

Finding a Solution

By using shallow or controlled subsurface drainage instead of conventional deep free drainage, producers improve their management of water, reduce fertilizer  inputs, and at the same time reduce nutrient loss to streams by 30-50%. Managed drainage includes

  • Fields with shallow drainlines

  • Sub-Drain outflow can be controlled with a structure

  • Slope is less than 1%

  • Main drainage lines carry flow from several laterals

  • Modification to existing drainage does not affect land owned by others


Today's Drainage Technology

The drainage water management structures of today allow farmers to adjust the water table in their fields depending on time of year and weather conditions. Drainage water management leads to less water leaving the field, 30-50% less nutrients moving to surface waters, and more crop available water. This system may need to be coupled with a conservation management system, because reducing subsurface flows can increase surface runoff and the potential for soil erosion and surface losses of agrochemicals. Surface drainage systems may need to be linked to these drainage water management structures to achieve maximum benefits. The Task Force is focused on promoting and assisting with the design and implementation of integrated systems.

Please visit:
Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition
A public, private partnership improving America's water quality, wildlife habitat and agronomics through drainage water management

ADMS Task Force Fact Sheet

ADMS Task Force Fact Sheet

ADMS Task Force Brochure

For information contact houser.83@osu.edu

Last updated on December 22, 2011