Beck’s announced a new water management study will be conducted at its Southern Illinois Practical Farm Research (PFR) site in Effingham, Ill. This multi-purpose study is designed to deliver farmers agronomic research on various tile installations and their ability to effectively drain water as well as irrigate crops through the same system.

Beck’s PFR exists to provide farmers with innovative research on new products and management practices to help increase yield and profitability on farms. Practical Farm Research Director Ryan McAllister said, “We hope that the various water management components of this research will help farmers understand the potential yield gains that could be achieved with proper drainage and effective irrigation solutions.” 

Beck’s claims this new research effort is one of the most comprehensive water management studies in the country and is designed to evaluate not only proper tile drainage width and depth, but also sub-irrigation, water table management, over-head irrigation and drip tape irrigation. Proper water management is vital in agriculture and Beck’s hopes that this new research on both drainage and irrigation will allow farmers to better predict the value of tile and to make more informed decisions regarding irrigation on their own farms.

“Water tends to be a limiting factor across the Midwest, especially here in southern Illinois where there is a preconceived notion that tile drainage in silt loam soils is not a profitable decision,” said Jason Webster, PFR Innovation lead at Beck’s. “The reality, however, is that late season rainfall typically makes or breaks the yield potential for that growing season. We are excited to conduct this study on behalf of farmers to help them understand the benefits of various types of drainage and irrigation and the substantial impact on yield and profit it could have.”

The tile system at Beck’s Southern Illinois PFR site was installed by 360Water Solutions on 15 acres of ground in January 2016. The goal is to test tile widths of 60 feet, 30 feet and 15 feet at both 24-inch and 36-inch depths. The unique design of this versatile system was engineered by Robert and Jeremy Meiners from Agrem, LLC. It is comprised of three-inch black plastic tile and six-inch main drain lines installed for water drainage as well as three-inch tile laterals for irrigation. Drip tape and an overhead irrigation system will also be installed to compare various irrigation techniques.

“As with many of our PFR studies, we plan for this new research to be a multi-year study at our Southern Illinois site, providing a long-term database of information from a variety of growing seasons,” McAllister added. “Yield will be collected on an annual basis, starting with the 2016 crop season, and documented in our PFR book that is distributed both in print and online.”  

In measuring the value of drainage and irrigation, this new study is the third of its kind for Beck’s PFR. In 2010, Beck’s installed a sub-irrigation test at the Indiana site, followed by a tile spacing and nutrient loss study that was added to the London, Ohio PFR site in 2015. The on-going Ohio study is in cooperation with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Field to Faucet initiative.

For more information about Beck’s Practical Farm Research or for results of these studies, visit