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The Wisconsin Blue Book, 1921

[State aids, assets, and finances],   pp. 526-543 PDF (5.2 MB)

Page 543

                 LAND    DRAINAGE IN       WISCONSIN.                  543
     County       'Sch~ool  Swamp     Sundry   Gov. Ref. purchiased Total
Wood ...............8 .00     46.061526.06
Islands................................::::::: .. .................. ....
Counties ......       2.02............. ............  876.02..............008
      'Total....  12,802.43 160,853.51  200.63  18,610.38 157,421.74 340,888.69
  Includes 4,321 acres donated by Nebagamon Lumber Co., for forest reserve.
   E. R. Jones, Chairman Department of Agricultural Engineering, Univ.
                                  of Wis.
   About 7,000,000 acres in Wisconsin is or has been too wet for profitable
 farming. This is one-fifth of the area of the state. The percentage of land
 needing drainage is highest in the central part of the Wisconsin River Val-
 ley. The percentage is least in the southwestern one-sixth of the state
 where the residual topography affords good drainage.
   The census of 1920 shows that 813,569 acres have been organized into
 drainage projects where landowners cooperated under Wisconsin laws in
 the construction of outlet drains. It is probable that 100,000 acres more
 were organized under the old town ditch law, but whose records were poorly
 kept or have been lost.
   The drainage district law (Chapter 557 Laws of 1919) was first enacted
 in 1905. In 1919 it was simplified. On that year also the Farm Drainage
 Law   (Chapter 446) was enacted to take the place of the old town ditch
   In recent years farmers desiring to organize for the construction of out-
 let drains have looked to the College of Agriculture for guidance. In 1915,
 the legislature required the College to report on the feasibility of all
 jects proposed. The laws of 1919 added certain police powers to this edu-
 cational work and made the State Chief Engineer responsible for it. The
 college, as a feature of its extension work, places its reports and recom-
 mendations at the disposal of the State Chief Engineer.
   From July 1, 1919 to January 1, 1921, applications were made for reports
 on 66 organizations. Twelve reports were in preparation at the end of
 that period and 54 were completed, of which 6 were unfavorable. These six
 projects were dropped upon advice of the State Chief Engineer. The 48
 feasible projects consist of two drainage districts and 46 farm "drainages"
 aggregating 111,090 acres, at an estimated cost of $904,680.
   The drainage organization acts through a board of three men under the
 jurisdiction of the county or circuit courts. It puts in only the main out-
 let drains, leaving the farmers to put in their own supplemental drains.
 The outlet drains are paid for by a special drainage tax levied against
 wet land benefited. There are no available state or federal funds for land
    The ouitlet drains installed by the organization are either open ditches
  or big tile. The smaller of the open ditches are 8 feet deep, 4 feet wide
  the bottom and 20 feet wide at the top. The larger are over 100 feet wide
  and over 12 feet deep. Tile from   8 inches to 48 inches in diameter, are
  being used, and they are replacing the smaller open ditches. On many of
  the wet lands the farmers have to lay lines of 5-inch tile from 4 to 5
  deep and from 4 to 8 rods apart to complete the drainage so that cultiva-
  tion is safe on wet years.
    The marsh soils are commonly rich in nitrogen but poor in phosphorus
  and potash. With proper drainage, fertilization and management these soils,
  are among the most valuable in the State, raising excellent crops of tin,-
  othy and alsike, rye, flax and, where temperature permits, corn.

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