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Aug 25

Fallow and Fixing

Posted on August 25, 2016 at 3:41 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 8/26/2016

Project updates:
CD34 construction
Cooreman Contracting work towards the East from CNTY. RD. 112

  • CD34 (Judson Twp.) Construction is slow going and muddy, but Cooreman crews are pushing through trying to get pipe laid.
  • CD28 (Lincoln Twp.) Construction was supposed to start up again this week with installing the subsurface tile.  After two or three major rain events in the last week...needless to say construction is at a muddy halt right now.
  • Fun Fact* we've had almost 50" of rain since end of April/first part of May this year in parts of Blue Earth County.

Fallow Syndrome on Your Farm? 

So as we all know by now, 2016 delivered some very heavy rainfalls.  These heavy rains and even hail episodes in areas have caused some areas of flooding in tillable acres.  Some of the flooded acres never got reseeded and if they did, some flooded out again.  So what happens if we leave that flooded spot just bare black dirt all year?  Why would that harm my crop next year?  These bare dirt areas of this year will cost you in your corn crop next year.  Fallow Syndrome is the absences of key fungal and microbial activity in the upper levels of the soil, or the root zone areas. 

Your corn crop the year after a fallow syndrome occasion will look very sick and off colored.  You’ll pick up on poorer emergence, shorter plants and thinner stalks.  You can have your local agronomist come out and tissue (testing the leaf of a plant) and soil sample, but nutrients available isn’t your issue.  The underlying issue is the lack of key fungal activity.  The healthy fungal activity and microbial activity are huge key factors to making a better healthier corn plant.  These fungi promote stronger healthier roots, which in turn gather more Phosphorus and Zinc out of the soil.  These are two major ingredients to the entire gathering and moving of nutrients in a corn plant.

I’ve read that this Fallow Syndrome can deliver a 15% yield reduction in corn.  We all know what happens when we have a poor stand with shorter, later-developing plants.  It leaves the door wide open for additional weed pressure that turns into a whole new set of issues to deal with.

Simple answer to avoiding this fallow issue….plant a cover crop.  Small grains in late summer stand a very good chance of guarding against fallow issues before freeze up.  Some of your cover crop decisions have to be made based off of your herbicide choices from the year.  It's a very easy and fairly inexpensive way to keep that “15% yield drag” back in your pocket.

drownd out

JD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.) Landowner meeting:   

JD36 landowner map

We held a landowner meeting on August 23 for system JD36 of Butternut Valley Township.  It was fairly well attended by landowners and many concerns and issues were addressed.  The need to repair this system stems from the big June storms we had earlier this year. 

I spoke about this system in last week’s blog about how we televised parts of this tile system.  After the landowners viewed some of the pictures from the televising and much discussion, it was determined to be much more affordable at this time to just replace the damaged portions of tile and open ditch.  For the age of the pipe on this system, almost pushing 100 years old, it was in fairly good shape and hard to justify spending additional dollars at this time.

We hope that we will receive some funds from HSEM (Homeland Security Emergency Management), this is a state organization that helps out in storm damage situations.  The total dollars that will be awarded to help for these needed repairs is undetermined as of yet.  Repairs to this system from the storm damage hopefully can get started yet this fall, maybe November.  The area affected is a heavily farmed area and the removal of crops is needed first to gain access to do the repairs.

Recent Drainage Inspections – week of August 22 - 26:

Inspections will be intermittent, but will more than likely be more concentrated around after harvest season time.

  • JD49 (Sterling Twp.) erosion and partial tile outlet to open ditch collapse.
  • JD36 (Butternut Valley Twp.) inspected a new surface intake structure over the 32” concrete county pipe.

Upcoming Drainage Inspections:

  • CD27 (Butternut Valley Twp.)
  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.)
  • JD49 (Sterling Twp.)
  • CD78 (Vernon Center Twp.)
  • CD01 (McPherson Twp.)


             Ryan Hiniker
Drainage Management Specialist