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Wet fields, More Wet Fields and Saline Seeps
This shot pretty much sums up my late June visit into North Country. I did my best to reduce the mosquito populations spawned by torrential rains in the eastern Dakotas and Manitoba, but I have a feeling there’s still a lot of these B-52-size bugs left up there.
This field just south of Brookings in east-central South Dakota pretty much summed up the start of my journey northward. Just 50 miles to the south of here, Sioux Falls had received nearly 13 inches of rain by June 19—a new June record.
It’s Wet in Manitoba
Coming back from the World Congress on Conservation in Agriculture in Winnipeg, the one thing that strikes you is how many corn and soybean acres there are in southern Manitoba. Unfortunately, excess rainfall has hammered these Canadian crops.
Ditto For North Dakota
Things didn’t get much better once I got back into North Dakota. Typical were fields like this one just across the Canadian border east of Cavalier, North Dakota. Prolific precipitation had morphed fields into lakes across the region.
It wasn’t all this way. This soybean field west of Hillsboro in east-central North Dakota looked better. At least it wasn’t under water. With the right weather, this field could produce great beans later this year.
Back in the Soup
Unfortunately, though, that scene was a brief reprieve. This field near Mantador in southeastern North Dakota was pretty typical of fields in this part of The Peace Garden State.
Well, It Was Good Farmland
Onto my home stomping grounds of northeastern South Dakota. This might look like one of the many cattail-ringed sloughs that dot prairie pothole country. Only this is land my dad farmed from the 1930s until 1980, when he sold it. Since around 2005, these and surrounding fields in this slough between Claremont and Langford have been under water up to 10 feet deep.
It didn’t look too promising on my way to my family’s quarter. This area has fought excess water for the past couple of decades, and the consequences are now becoming apparent. Saline seeps like these, formed when salts percolate to the soil spurred by excess water, are quite common. Saline seeps spurn crops planted on them.
Help Is On The Way
The good news is locals are working with South Dakota State University researchers to deal with the problem. There’s a field day slated for July 8 at Pierpont, South Dakota, on how to manage these areas. To pre-register, go to http://www.sdcorn.org/page/events/sub/viewall.
Surprisingly, my family’s field near Claremont looked pretty good. It’s up on higher ground, and the corn had a pretty even stand.
Like most areas, there’s no shortage of moisture. My 18-inch soil probe easily plunged into the full soil profile.
Turn Off The Spigot
Unfortunately, this field just one mile south of my farm is more the norm than the exception. Hopefully, Mother Nature will turn off the excessive moisture spigot for the rest of the summer.
Saline seeps, wet fields, Manitoba, South Dakota, North Dakota