Flooded Farmers Working to get Fields in Shape for Planting


Flooding on Indiana Farm Bureau Vice President Kendell Kulp’s Jasper County farm.

On National Ag Day today, with a hint of spring-like weather conditions, farmers are getting closer to doing what they do best, putting another crop in the ground. Some Hoosier farmers are first dealing with the aftermath of flooding a few weeks ago in the fields that held the flood waters for an extended period of time. Technical agronomist Kirby Bacon says most of the flood waters are gone.

“In most areas, the water has receded,” he said. “We’ve still got a few pockets in places here and there, but for the most part the water has receded.”

Bacon says the appearance of the fields once again can make us feel better, but there are numerous challenges lurking. Farm fields located near river bottoms are inundated with any number of items you might see floating in a river. Tires and tree limbs are common. Then there is the movement of surface material like corn stalks and bean stubble making their way to the edges of the ponding. Weed seed can also accumulate on previously flooded fields.

“Those seeds wind up being pretty durable in some of those areas. You might have trouble getting something else to grow, but it seems like a weed seed does a fine job of getting going. So, we’re probably going to have to get out and do some work in those areas. We’re going to have to clean up the drift areas around the edges and try and move some of the stalks or the field residue back, distribute it more evenly.”

Some form of tillage might be in order as well, to get improve aeration of the soil.

“When they’ve been ponded as extremely as they have, flooded as extremely as they have for as long as they have, you tend to de-oxygenate that soil profile pretty thoroughly.” He explained. “Reincorporating some oxygen in there allows the metabolic processes to get restarted and going again, and then you’re in much better shape when you go out and put a seedling in that environment.”

Bacon told HAT that if the available window for field work shuts, some parts of those fields might become a series of experiments during the season. Bacon is a DEKALB-Asgrow technical agronomist based in Indiana.

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