It’s hard to overestimate the difficulties farmers in the Midwest and eastern Great Plains are facing right now due to devastating flooding, and NOAA weather forecasters fear more rain and flooding could occur this spring across the central U.S.
There’s not only damaged grain and dead livestock that must be disposed of, but the gut-wrenching task of rebuilding inundated soils — which may be especially difficult for no-tillers who’ve spent numerous years building soil health. The enemy here will be “flooded soil syndrome” that could affect plants already in the ground or about to be planted.
If you’re one of farmers dealing with soaked fields, or possibly facing that scenario later this spring as the rains continue, there are some strategies to employ to restore soil function. Read through this tip sheet from Iowa State University for more information about restoring productivity to your flooded fields again.
Corn seems to be more affects by this than soybeans, experts say. Dormancy of winter wheat, or cover crops like cereal rye, greatly reduces the requirement for oxygen but does not eliminate it. For more information on how flooding affects winter wheat, click here.
They key is getting roots back in the ground. One suggestion from Iowa State is to plant a cover crop to “provide host plant roots for the re-colonization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi,” the authors say. “The more time a cover crop has to grow, the greater the chance of AM recovery and rebuilding the mycorrhizal population.”