Many of us are discovering just how well-drained our fields are this Spring, with the seemingly non-stop rain foiling production plans yet again. The Agency of Agriculture is aware of the problem and is working to compile reports from farmers on the impacts, including:
1. Damage to crops
2. Damage to agricultural infrastructure (buildings, equipment, etc.)
3. Planting delays
4. Delayed pest management procedures (e.g. spraying)
5. Other flood/rain related issues
If you have suffered from the record-breaking wetness, email Steve Justis at email@example.com. Please keep “2011 spring flooding event” in the subject line for your response.
Besides impacting planting, grazing and harvesting schedules, wet soils can cause other problems as well. Wet soils are more easily compacted by heavy equipment, tillage and grazing. This compaction can have long-term impacts that are not easy to resolve. For some basic information on soil compaction, the first section of the publication Soil Compaction: Causes, Effects & Control by the University of Minnesota provides a good overview of causes and impacts of soil compaction.
Nutrient loss can also be a serious issue. Depending on the organic matter content in your soils, nutrients are either more or less likely to leach from your fields. To learn more about soils and management techniques for healthy soil structures watch the Basic Soil Health and Soil Testing webinar presented last spring by UVM Extension specialist, Dr. Heather Darby.
Now is a good time to walk your fields and assess how well they drain. While it may be too late to influence your plans for this year, having this knowledge can help you plan planting and grazing schedules for next year. Write down your findings so you don’t forget, and consider using management practices to improve your field’s ability to deal with water in the future.