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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Open winter erosion

So far we`ve basically had an open winter (that could change tomorrow) as dry as it`s been this erosion has been sad.  Windy as it`s been chopped corn stalks blow into ditches and lawns.  Strip-tilled fields the soil berms even blow, only untouched corns talks fair this winter well.  Even untilled bean stubble has soil erosion which can not be helped.  organizations such as Farm Bureau should educate the public, as Iowa ditches looking  like this are common.

BADeere_0-1642121914213.jpeg

 

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6 Replies
clayton58
Veteran Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

Educate the public how?  And to what?  Maybe farm organizations should educate the farmers about being proactive to stop/prevent such erosion 

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

I don`t believe that in a open winter it can be prevented, short of leaving corn stalks, because even untouched bean stubble has erosion this winter.   City slickers driving through the country and seeing the dirt in ditches will have a cow and susceptible to the politics of more regulations.  Lauri Johns` Farm Bureau Minute could address it and the fact sometimes soil erosion happens with the best farm practices.   Chris Lindahl gets his real estate message through with a crazy amount of billboards.  

I`m about winning arguments, but one farmer told me "Aw, my soil blows on to the neighbor and the wind changes and his soil blows on to my field"  I could not counter that reply  🙂  However we are losing topsoil somewhere, that is a fact and the soil in the road ditch sure looks blacker than the soil in the dried out fields.  Being a peat ground farmer, I can attest that peat (high organic matter) does break down (rots) and tile seemingly gets shallower, really noticeable on tile installed 60 years ago.   I can only hope smarter reduced tillage will slow that process. 

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erikjohnson61y
Veteran Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

I stopped just about all fall tillage over a decade ago for soil erosion and water conservation reasons. (Occasionally I still  have to do some deep till ripping to break up compaction in spots from time to time). I have a Calmer chopping head on my 9500, so I grind up the stalk at harvest.  Yes, the leaves still blow all over the place, but the ground is quite covered in crop debris for a long time. Once the ground freezes, I graze the stalks, trading crop litter for manure. In beans, I pick tall/bushy varieties to get the most debris, and make sure I set the vanes in the chopper to spread it as wide as the header (not hard since it's only a 20' head). If it works right, it makes this nice interwoven mat that stays there all winter. In fact, I had to trade my field cultivator for a mulch finisher because the cover was so thick it just balled up around the cultivator shanks or in the harrow tines. We've had several 50mph wind storms this fall/winter, and we're open, and that mat is still there.

Of course, building organic matter is also an objective, and over 20 years I've managed to increase OM from 1.5% when I bought the place (from a miner) to average 3.5% now. I also bought a 4" tile plow and have been going through all the ground since 2017, including most of my landlords ground (He agreed to cover my costs to do it, and delay rent increases as a result for a few years to compensate for my time and equipment).  About 25% of the ground I farm is "C" soil types - 6 - 9% slopes.  Hard to say for sure, but I'd estimate I've reduced my wind and water erosion issues 80-90%. As a side benefit, the tile allows better water infiltration and the salts in some of the low spots are rinsing out. pH is dropping from high levels there, and I'm now (after several years) growing great crops where it used to not grow much of anything.   

I am not big enough (nor young enough) to justify an expensive planter, and my CEC's are high enough I can apply apply all my fertilizer preplant, so the elevator spreads the fertilizer according to my prescriptions and I do one pass with the disk or mulch finisher to work it in and make the seedbed, then I plant, then (in beans) I pack it.  So I am vulnerable to erosion from the day before planning until some roots get established. Were I 10 years younger, I'd probably be going for a strip till system, but what I've got now is working for me and will take me to retirement.

Hobbyfarmer
Honored Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

BA

Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Most people live in the city and seldom get more than 10 miles from their bedeoom.

We don't need them out here being underfoot and then demanding changes. 

Btw how much snow is under that?

Down here it is grader ditches full of water eroded soil.

The remedy that is common is for the county comes out digs out the dirt, takes it 3/4 the way back up the slope. The grower spreads it back out. 

Rinse lather repeat in a few years.

You don't want to stir up the public citidiots.

 

WCMO
Senior Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

And, road ditches can be deceiving.  Around here, the road district cleans out the ditches, and keeps making the roads wider by digging into the bank between the ditch and the field -- makes the ditch-bank steeper and fills more with dirt from the road-bank than from the fields.

It gets obvious where I've taken out fences, but left a few solid wood posts, especially the corners, and now they nearly hit the fenceposts as they clean out the ditches.  Haven't measured, yet am sure those 30-foot easements are approaching 45.

Which reminds me -- I've got one place where they've widened the road so much that the road culvert now ends about 3 feet inside the gravel.  Every time they grade the road, they close up the end of the culvert, partly because the drainage fills with gravel anyway, especially when they move snow.  At  some point, am sure their response will be to put in a longer culvert, and probably set it deeper, then it will wash even worse (deeper and more gravel) as it drains into my waterway.

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Open winter erosion

Here the road graders push gravel in the ditches, if we could reclaim the crushed rock in the ditches, the county wouldn`t have to buy any for years   🙂

Back in the olden days when everybody moldboard plowed, some farmers would plow towards the fenceline until they about buried it.  They could almost farm a rod closer after they quit doing that.   But the fencelines do tell the story in some cases of how much topsoil disappeared.

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