High nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fluxes from upstream agriculture threaten aquatic ecosystems in surface waters and estuaries, especially in areas characterized by high agricultural N and P inputs and densely drained catchments like the Netherlands. Controlled drainage has been recognized as an effective option to optimize soil moisture conditions for agriculture and to reduce unnecessary losses of fresh water and nutrients. We designed a small scale (1 ha) field experiment to investigate the hydrological and chemical changes after introducing controlled drainage. Precipitation rates and the response of water tables and drain fluxes were measured in the periods before the introduction of controlled drainage (2007-2008) and after (2009-2011). For the N and P concentration measurements, we combined auto-analysers for continuous records with passive samplers for time-average concentrations at individual drain outlets. Our experimental setup yielded continuous time series for all relevant hydrological and chemical parameters, which enabled us to quantify changes in the field water and solute balance after introducing controlled drainage. We concluded that controlled drainage reduced the drain discharge and increased the groundwater storage in the field. The introduction of controlled drainage did not have clear positive effects on nutrient losses to surface water.