Illinois Waterways

Creating waterways to drain ponding areas.

Farmer: Jim Zimmer
Location: Illinois, USA
Field Area: 217 acres or 87.8 hectares
Irrigation Method: none
Crops: Corn and Soybean

Figure 1. Satellite image of the field Beabout&Furry.


The problem areas can be clearly seen Drainage Analysis in Figure 2 below showing ponding areas about 2 acres each and about 1 foot ponding depth. There are also areas that's having erosion issues.

Figure 2. Existing Topography (left) and Existing Drainage Analysis (right). Drag the slider left or right to view each.


An OptiSurface 4Way was used to design the field. This lets water meander across the field and drain to the edges. Waterways were designed in to minimize the width of the cut area to drain out those ponding areas.


Figure 3. Existing Topography (left) and Proposed Topography (right) . Drag the slider left or right to view each.

Figure 5. Proposed Cut/Fill Map.


Here's a video from the client's contractor while shaping this 200-acre farm.

Watch the video at about 13:40 mark where he discuss how he tackled the waterway design.


Total earthworks ended up at 27 yd³/ac (51 m³/ha) which is very low compared to traditional methods. Creating shallow waterways is a very effective technique to eliminate ponding areas while still allowing traffic and machinery to pass through these areas without issues.

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