Showing posts from September, 2015

Corn Stalks in Surface Water

After heavy rains and extensive flooding, a common complaint in rural areas is the movement of corn stalks and crop residue off agricultural fields into roadways, surface ditches, and streams; causing drainage problems. Major questions include why farmers are increasingly using no-till and what can farmers do to prevent corn stalks and corn residue from clogging drainage outlets and ditches and from becoming a hazard on roadways. This factsheet will explain why 1) farmers are using no-till and 2) offer some strategies to reduce corn stalk and corn residue removal from agricultural fields. Some common farm myths are discussed which may be preventing farmers from reducing the corn stalk/corn residue issue. According to the Putnam County Soil & Water Conservation District 2015 transect, approximately 67% of corn acres are planted to no-till soybeans and only 6-7% of soybean acres are planted to true no-till corn. The corn residue including corn leaves, corn stalks, and corn cobs and c

Flood Compaction and Soil Carbon

  If you dig in the soil this year, you will notice that the soil tends to be harder and more compacted in the top 3-4 inches. This is a common occurrence in a wet year, especially when water has been standing on the soil surface for an extended period of time. Farmers may think it is the weight of water causing the soil compaction. Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon and there is 27,156 gallons of water in an acre-inch of water. A field with 12 inches water/acre of land is equivalent to 62.4 pounds pressure per square foot of soil ((12 inches of water * 27156 gallons/inch * 8.34 pounds/ gallon of water)/43,560 square feet per acre)). Tractors and farm equipment have axle loads that weigh 10-20 ton, so our soil scientists tell us that the “weight” of the water is not a major cause of soil compaction. When soils are saturated for long periods of time, soil microbes, especially the anaerobic (lack of oxygen) bacteria dominate and they obtain oxygen for respiration from the soil by stripp