1. The sooner you tile, the sooner you reap the rewards. Tiling just needs to get done as quickly as possible, even if that means going in-crop. Your soil will thank you in a big way if you keep the right level of air in there, instead of continually allowing the water table to get too high, which kills all your beneficial soil microbes, not to mention crop roots. Plus, if you have a wet fall, it will be far easier to get the crop out if the ground is tiled.
Clean water coming out of a tile line. Often, the water coming out of the tile lines is of drinking water quality.
2. The tiny amount of crop you will rip up will be more than offset by yield gain THIS YEAR. Our advice to minimize crop damage is to only tile when the crop is less than one foot tall. Small crops can recover much easier than big crops. Keep in mind, you are only pulling a single shank once every 20 to 100 feet in your field, and maybe even less if all you are doing is spot-tiling. As soon as that tile gets in the ground, your crop is going to start to benefit, so expect yield gain even this year, not loss.
3. It’s a lot easier and more fun tiling in May and June vs. November and December. In the spring/summer, the days are longer, the temperature is warmer, you likely have far more traction so you need to get pulled less, and everyone on your farm will be much more excited to help out. We find our productivity in June is double what our productivity is in November most years on our farm.
4. You will reduce the burden on your kids or whoever farms the ground next. After one of our workshops this winter, a lady came up to me and started crying. She showed me her soil tests, and then I understood. Her soil had literally been killed by excess sodium. I don’t remember the numbers, but it was something like 30% sodium. Nothing will grow in that. She said she couldn’t pull any tillage tool through those areas, as they would stop the tractor dead. Sadly, this problem didn’t happen overnight. It had been building for decades, and it could have easily been solved 10, 20, or even 30 years ago with tile. I realize we all have to think about ourselves and our farm profitability, but when I see young people crying, it certainly makes me stop and think.
Remember we are nothing more than caretakers of our land. Tile is a tremendous tool that has no downside, other than the cost. I strongly encourage you to invest the money. Your land values will go up. Your crops will improve, as will your profits. Then, while you probably won’t even think about this aspect, the next generation and the next and the next will all benefit from the decision you have made today.