Keeping the soil where it belongs…

This morning we woke up to a lot of rain. I mean a lot of water everywhere.

after5inchrain_12142015

Lots of water after a 5 inch rain. Unusual in December in that the ground is not frozen.

Since nearly all my neighbors rip or chisel their corn stubble and don’t use cover crops, I was curious to see what the landscape looked like. So I went out and took some pictures of full road ditches, water flowing across tilled fields, and Alleman Creek out of its banks.

The rain started yesterday, Friday, December 12 in the evening. By 3 pm yesterday, the 13th, the nearest KCCI Schoolnet weather station had recorded 3.22 inches of rain. At about the same time, I put up my new rain gauge (I had put mine back up Friday night, but it was leaking because on Saturday morning there was nothing in it.) When I checked my new gauge about an hour ago, I had 1.8 inches in it. Therefore we have mostly like had about 5 inches of rain in the last 48 hours. Remember also that our ground is not frozen at all. Normally our ground would have been frozen by now and the rain would have all run off. Since the ground is not frozen, it is soaking in to some extent, but 5 inches is a lot of rain, so the soil cannot take all of the water at once.

There is where our conservation practices come in. We have 4 terraces, 6-8 inches of winter rye cover crop, no-till tillage system, and buffer strips. All of these practices contribute to less soil erosion on a day like today.

ryeroots_11142015

The roots of our winter rye cover crop are one reason that our farm retains more rain water, releasing it more slowly into Four Mile Creek watershed.

How much of this sudden runoff would cover crops and no-till prevent? That is a good question. Research shows that those practices will increase water retention on the land, thereby slowing down the runoff from heavy rains.

KCCI is also predicting the following:

“Fourmile Creek is forecast to rise above flood stage midday Monday, topping 12.6 feet or 0.4 feet above flood stage. It’s expected to be in decline by this evening.”

Source: KCCI weather viewed at 10:58 am December 14, 2015.

 

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