Possible Impact Flooding Could Have on Agriculture

Though much of the high water we were seeing last week has receded, you may have noticed that there are still several fields that are looking more like lakes recently.

Depending on when these flood waters clear up completely, Hoosier farmers may run into some issues this farm season.

Purdue Extension Agriculture Educator Phil Woolery mentioned that the severity of impact will depend on how long a farmers’ field stays underwater. He said fields that dried up rather quickly probably won’t have any issues, while those that are having trouble draining may run into some problems down the line.

Woolery explained that it’s possible that the organisms in the soil that typically assist with plant growth may be suffocated by the lack of oxygen. He said the absence of those beneficial organisms could potentially hinder crop growth.

Woolery stated that another problem farmers may have to deal with is excess sand. He said especially in the fields near the Kankakee River where levees broke, farmers may find heavy deposits of sediment and sand remaining once waters go down. He said that sand will need to be removed, as it can impact plant growth for not only one season but multiple years.

Something else farmers will need to take care of is excess debris. Local farmer and engineer Lee Nagai explained that once waters recede, farmers will have to spend extra time this season clearing their fields of any kind of debris that may have been carried in by the flood waters. He added that as long as the wet weather patterns don’t persist past March 15th, farmers shouldn’t see much of an impact on crops.

Purdue Extension Educator Woolery said that typically, the farm season begins with some field prep in late March and early April and some planting starts toward the end of April into May. Depending on how long a field stays submerged, some farmers may have to start planning ahead to make adjustments for this year.