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5 Ways to Take Action While Waiting to Access Flooded Fields

Farmers are stuck in a precarious position ahead of planting this spring. It seems like a lot of advice lately is to “hurry up and wait.” Wait for waters to recede, wait to assess field conditions, wait for financial assistance. While patience is a virtue, how can you make the most of this time given to you?

Start documenting.

If you haven’t already, take pictures of damage, write down rainfall totals, and take measurements of sediment and erosion. A thorough record will aid in your conversations with agencies. We often forget the details and severity as time goes on. Should a similar disaster happen again, you can reference the historical data and understand the reality of what it takes to get through.

Create a plan for natural disasters.

There was no set precedent for the extreme weather events of Mid-March, and everyone jumped into crisis mode. If you have an action plan with assigned roles and responsibilities on your operation, you’ll experience less stress and more efficiency. One plan can be adapted and put to work in cases of fire, hail, tornadoes, etc. Consider answering the following questions:

  • What roles do your family or operators have?
  • How are you keeping records?
  • What organizations do you need to reach out to?
  • Who contacts whom?
  • What are your policy details and requirements?
  • What questions do you need to ask?

Plan to manage sediment.

Silt and sediment amounts will vary but especially on no-till fields, this will be a huge issue without the right equipment. There will be a push to rent or borrow equipment needed to repair erosion and remedy soil crusting. Then, you’ll need to consider where sediment and debris should be moved to or if residue can be incorporated into the soil. Work with the NRCS if your soil profile has changed. Further, if you have to abandon a field, plant a cover crop or let the weeds grow as something is better than nothing.

Consider the state of your pastures.

Pastureland with perennial grasses wasn’t out of dormancy prior to the flooding and is at risk of being ruined for summer grazing if sediment is tilled under. Without hay, you may not be able to reseed and count on sufficient plant growth. Donations of hay and fencing supplies will go a long way.

Anticipate planting with a lighter load.

We’ve seen a wet season already, and it truly is important to be patient and avoid making matters worse. When you are able to start planting, don’t go out with a full load on saturated soils; this will minimize the risk of compaction. It may mean more stops and more time, but there will be better soil conditions throughout the season. It's also important to be aware that we might see an increase in seedling blight issues due to the moisture in the soil.

Finally, ask for help when you need it.

Click here for a list of online resources to receive assistance or to donate.

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