Controlled subsurface drainage irrigation systems have been designed to promote agronomic performance and to limit overland transport of nutrients during high rainfall events. In this manuscript we describe the design of a 40 ha controlled subsurface drainage irrigation system, describe the soil resource and describe the soil water contents influenced by drainage and irrigation operations. With the use of the Subsurface controlled irrigation/drainage system, crop yields approach regional yield thresholds and soil water contents were maintained between field capacity and the maximum allowed soil water deficit, thus optimizing crop growth and development. In companion manuscripts we describe agronomic performance of corn (Zea mays L.), nutrient uptake patterns, and nutrient concentrations from tile drain effluents and note their potential impact on surface water resources.

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