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Floods impacting Minnesota farm soils and crops

Floods impacting Minnesota farm soils and crops

By Scout Nelson

Floods in Minnesota are causing significant challenges for farmers, impacting farm soils, crops, and water quality. Governor Tim Walz recently visited the Rapidan Dam near Mankato to discuss flood conditions and recovery efforts.

Unfortunately, more rain is in the forecast, exacerbating the situation for farmers in southern Minnesota.

Shane Bugeja, a University of Minnesota extension educator, joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer to explain the flooding impacts on agriculture.

The partial collapse of the Rapidan Dam has unleashed decades of sediment downstream into the Blue Earth River, eroding the riverbank and affecting water quality. This sediment, once part of farm soil, now poses challenges for water quality downstream.

Farmers are facing flooded fields, with many crops underwater. If floodwaters persist for more than a few days, crops begin to suffer, and many may die after four days of submersion.

Once the water recedes, bare soil remains, making fields vulnerable to weed growth and further erosion. Herbicides and other agricultural chemicals washed into groundwater and nearby lakes and streams further complicate the situation.

Soil quality is a significant concern. Fertile farm soil, rich in nutrients like phosphorus, is being washed away, causing long-term productivity issues.

This loss not only impacts current crops but also future planting seasons, as the nutrients necessary for plant growth are depleted.

Replanting crops in flooded areas poses another challenge. It may be too late to plant many cash crops, and yields for crops like soybeans could be significantly reduced. Cover crops are an option, but they require careful planning and management.

Farmers may need to consider federal disaster relief programs to mitigate the financial impact of the floods. Vegetable farmers, in particular, face difficulties accessing crop insurance benefits, adding to their challenges.

The Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline is available to provide support to farmers during these stressful times.

Shane Bugeja emphasized the importance of soil conservation and sustainable farming practices to increase resilience against extreme weather events. Reducing tillage and planting cover crops can help protect soil quality and maintain agricultural productivity.

The recent floods highlight the need for adaptable farming practices and support for farmers facing natural disasters.

With ongoing efforts from the University of Minnesota extension and other resources, farmers are working to overcome these challenges and protect their livelihoods.

Photo Credit: university-of-minnesota

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Categories: Minnesota, Crops, Education, Sustainable Agriculture

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