Making Hay
Week of May 23rd, 2004 | The weather was very wet & stormy.

A very wet weekend!

A very wet weekend!

Wow! What a wet and stormy weekend! Floods! On Friday, we received four inches of rain! Still, we were very fortunate, because other surrounding areas had more rain than we did. Fredericksburg (about 22 miles south of our farm) had more severe flooding after their area had 8 inches fall. Strong winds and tornados did damage, too. Bradgate (a small town in Northwest Iowa) lost 75% of their town from a tornado. It even made the top story of the Today Show Saturday morning.

My cousin got married on Saturday. Because of all the rains the night before, the wedding location had to be moved. The place they were supposed to have the wedding, reception, and dance at, had water right up to the front door. A lot of last minute changes and phone calls were made to all the invited guests that morning. The wedding still took place on time, of course at a different place. How lucky they were to find a place to have the wedding and reception. The wedding was great. Especially the food! But, by the end of the night, it rained again!!

Our fields have tile in the ground to lower the water table. This way, water will not stand in fields and the tile helps prevent erosion. As you can see, my cornfield has a river running through it! When I took this picture, a couple of days after our rains, the water in my field had gone down by about 65%. I was expecting to see the corn emerging from the ground soon, but now, I'll have to wait until it is dry to replant. Replanting crops can be a large expense for farmers.

Fields need tile to keep the water table at a proper level. Water runs downhill. Many farmers do not use waterways, but it is important to prevent soil erosion and crop loss. A waterway is a grassed path planted through a low spot of a field to allow water runoff into a creek, river, or wetland. Farmers have planted their crops as close to a creek or river as possible. This is not a very good practice because floodwater can move the worked up soil from the field into the creek resulting in erosion. Floodwater can also bury or sweep away the seed in the ground. Fields should be an appropriate distance from a creek or river. Some of our creek adjoining land is in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program.

Farms benefit from diversity in crops. We have roughly about 60 acres of corn, soybeans, barley, hay, and pasture each. (Total of about 300 acres, plus about another 30 for permanent pasture, CRP ground, and farmstead.) Our barley, hay and pasture fields did not have erosion. The soil is not worked up, and the plants and weeds keep the soil from moving. The soybean fields haven't been planted yet. Here the undisturbed cornstalks shield the ground. A good cover of weeds also helps hold the soil in place. The planted cornfields eroded because the ground was worked up and very loose, and there are not plants holding the soil together yet. Still, our diverse farm suffered less overall erosion than any farm that is all planted to row crops.

Farm Fact: In northeast Iowa, we receive about 32-36 inches of precipitation a year on average. That's three feet of precipitation per square foot. Three times 43,560 square feet in an acre, equals 130,680 cubic feet of precipitation in one acre per year. That means 977,486.4 gallons of precipitation per acre each year, on average! That also means about 7240.64 gallons per bushel of corn. On Friday, my eight-acre cornfield received 122,185.8 gallons of precipitation per acre. Some of that water went into the soil, but most of it moved through the field and went downhill into the ditch by the road.

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