Rural Improvements, pp. 167-168 (1775)
By Joseph Wimpey

CHAP. XXI.
Of draining land.

. 1. THE draining land, properly, is as great an improvement, as any one thing that can be practised. Nothing destroys the sweet wholsome herbage, and incourages the growth of rank, unprofitable weeds, that impoverish the land so much, as water being permitted to stand upon it, until the sun and wind dry it up. I have seen many fields quite spoiled and run to ruin by this means, which formerly were very good pasture, of three or four times the present value. Therefore this is an object well worth consideration.

. 2. There are different methods of performing this work, according as the land is circumstanced. It is most commonly owing to a clay bottom, or some kind of earth that prevents the water from sinking downwards. If the land is not very level, I would recommend the cutting a deep ditch under the hedge, on the upper side of the field; for it is most probable the water that rises in the field, comes from the lands above. If you get down below the clay, or the tenacious earth; if you reach to rock, stone, gravel, chalk, slaty, or a shellaty bed, the water will probably sink through the strata, and run quite off without further trouble; but if you cannot get through the clay, and the ditch does not convey off the water; then the ditch should be continued down each side of the field, which will, at least, carry off a good deal of water from the sides of the field. But if there is any quagmire or very spewry place in the field, that lies out of the reach of the ditches, I would advise sinking a pit in the middle of the same, until you get below the clay, that a passage may be open for the water to run off. The pit is then to be filled with bavins or faggots, set upright as close as they can be placed, then the whole to be covered over with earth, to such a thickness, that the wood may be out of the reach of the plough. If you do not get through the clay, the pit will not answer the purpose of a drain, for as soon as the cavity is full, it will overflow its lower edge, and be as troublesome and injurious as before. You have then no remedy left but to cut one or more drains, from the most depending part, into one of the side ditches: these drains may be either open, or under ground drains; the latter are most preferred, because it leaves the surface of the land smooth and plain. These are to be filled up with what happens to be most convenient; if the land is stony, the stones are usually picked up and used, if not, some put straw, bean halm, furze, bundles of brambles, &c. But the cheapest and best things I know, if they are convenient to be had, is black or white-thorn of several years growth, tied up with strong green withs in bundles proportioned to the size of, the drain, which should be cut in the shape of the letter V; the bundles being bound of a proper size, and well trod in, will leave a cavity below for the water to runoff, thus , as well as between the sticks of which the bundles are composed. The wood should be laid in green, and will then last a great number of years. As wood for this purpose is to be got in almost every place, the expence is little more than labour, which cannot be better bestowed. The earth which comes out of the ditches, pits, &c. when it has lain a time exposed to the air, should be removed and spread over the field, it will be useful in the low places, and add to the depth of the soil, and improve it too, if of a different nature from the surface, which is very common.