de l’Escaille (2)

Water drain block


de l’Escaille (2)

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

de l’Escaille

Year of foundation



Limburg, Flanders

Farm area/size of the organisation:

300 ha (145 ha cultivated)

Number of workers:

3 workers

Farm main activity:

General field crops

Climate and soil characteristics

Temperate climate with adequate precipitation. Good sandy soils.

Measure Information

Description of the measure

Closing drainage ditches between plots in order to maintain high water levels.

Objective of the measure

Keep the soil moist and water available for the crops in dry years. Still, it is possible to open the drainage ditches when needed to avoid excessive water and waterlogging.

Justification of the choice

Sandy soils are drying very quickly in summer and as the water availability is high during winter, crops might not develop a deep root system that could be useful in summer.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

  • Experience done with Agriland Ouest
  • Discussions at EU and nature directors
  • Works delivered at ELO

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

The fields well equipped with drains were drying too quickly and as soon the weather became warm and dry, the only solution was irrigating with the “Bauer” systems.

Implementation phase

Description of the survey done for the implementation

The profile of the soil and its different levels have been studied.

Materials used

Ditches and sluices of the century-old irrigation system and placement of new concrete valves with slides

Costs for the implementation

Each new system costs 980 euro

Required maintenance operations

In 2 specific cases, the use of “vopo” pumps is required

Recommended knowledge / skills / training / courses / education desired before starting the measure implementation

Need to understand very well the functioning of the thermodynamic system of the farm to take advantage of it.


Keeping the soil moist with lower costs for workforce and energy. Furthermore, crop production is increased.
With the higher water table and the constant presence of water, biodiversity increased (insects, frogs, fish and birds). Surveys show a constant increase in numbers even of rare species.


Innovation elements

The easier distribution of water and expensive ditches system.

Key element for success

The regular and easy access to water.


Physical constraints

The maintenance of ditches and of the drains can be difficult.

Beavers are expanding; on one hand, they contribute to maintaining the water table high, but on the other hand, when floods occur, they might create problems.

Technological constraints

Need to have good water quality at disposal

Acceptance constraints

Farmers still believe that using groundwater is a better option.

Proposed solutions to above constraints

Explain the advantages and sensibilize the farmers.


Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

It’s a learning experience but rewarding to the farmer as crops will not suffer stress or at least much less during a dry period.

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

The measure is environmentally sustainable since the biodiversity of the farm drastically increased and the water is better managed.

Economical sustainability

The economic sustainability is enhanced since this measure is a cheap method to reduce energy consumed, compared to other irrigation systems.

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Have supply from water stream
  • organization between farmers if more than one uses this measure.

Conclusion remarks

The measure is easy to be implemented but needs a very good comprehension of water management.

Future plans

To add additional valves to keep the water table higher in more places and to drain water when heavy rains are forecasted.

Open problems

Workers need to learn how the water system functions and need to anticipate the behaviour of protected species such as beavers.


Make sure you can empty the water sections quickly when needed.

Good apps for accurate weather forecasts are of great help.

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