How the Drought Is Affecting the Soil

Ray McCormick

We have been reporting all summer just how the drought has been impacting the crops, but it has also had an impact on our soils. There has been lots of talk about growers plowing under, or discing down, their drought-destroyed crops. But Ray McCormick, President of the IASWCD, says that is the wrong thing to say and the wrong thing to do, “The hot and dry weather has left our soil in a very fragile condition.”  He told HAT that plowing crops under or discing fields will lead to excessive wind and water erosion.  He added leaving residue in the field and planting cover crops is an ideal way to sequester carbon in the soil and provide a lot of nitrogen for next year’s crop.


McCormick says this year’s early harvest is an excellent opportunity for growers to try a fall cover crop, “With harvest likely to be done by late September, this will give farmers plenty of time to plant a cover crop.”  Cover crops are becoming more and more popular in Indiana, and McCormick suggests growers lock in a seed supply because demand is likely to be high this year.  Research has shown that these crops and dramatically improve soil fertility and soil tilth.  There is a program that will pay you to plant a cover crop. The WHIP program will pay $42 per acre for planting a cover crop, but the deadline for sign up is August 24.  Contact your NRCS office for more details on the WHIP program and for technical advice on cover crops.

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