Published Aug 25, 2016

Farmers respond to “cover crop roots plugging tile lines”

By Sarah Carlson

This summer cover crop experts from Indiana wrote an extension publication reaction to farmers concerns about plugged tile lines being caused by cover crops. I asked the question, have you had cover crops plug your tile lines to our PFI cover crop email discussion list. Below are some of there reactions. In general farmers seemed to conclude that roots are roots and they can clog tiles. Some farmers concluded that a plugged tile from any type of root might mean a bigger issue with that tile.

  • “I’d say warmer winter of 15-16 and it doesn’t matter roots are roots.”
  • “I think that certainly the season is a factor. I don’t have proof, but I suspect that covers with larger root mass production have some effect. However, I have pulled roots from tile lines (corn) in years before I used cover crops.”
  • “I just dug up a 4 ft deep clay tile. Not running but fine roots lining outer circumference.  I think the critical part is the  length of time live roots are in the tile. I would like to hear of any problems with perennials. “
  • “I have been in perennials since 2008 and the last few years I have had  a couple of  tiles plugged every year.”
  • “What a great problem to have grass and legume roots 3 – 5′ deep.”
  • “What I have found in many of the places when I dig them up is a collapsed tile, low point, poor joint or small 3″ clay tile half or more full of sand.”
  • “I have many times seen after a heavy rain there is a pile of roots at the tile outlet which leads me to believe that many times these tiles will clean themselves if there is not some other problem.”
  • “I have actually had brome roots in 2 different grassed waterways plug newer plastic tile.”
  • “I experienced this in my cereal rye field this year. Only in the field that I harvested for seed.”
  • “With 54 acres in rotational grazed fields, 20 acres of hay land, and numerous waterways this spring was the first in several years of no problems.  We have had waterway grass roots plug tile lines in 2 fields. Both were 1/4 mile stretches of problems. $2000 later water was flowing.”