Rain, Rain Go Away

5/24/19

Rain, rain go away. Come back and never stay. As most of Iowa is receiving rain again today, we sit and think about how this year’s rain compares to the past. This year we have had a total of nine inches thus far (January through April), surpassing the state’s average of seven inches. If we experience this amount of rainfall the rest of the year, we will exceed last year’s precipitation.

Iowa State University’s Iowa Environmental Mesonet “Climodat” reports give data on monthly and yearly precipitation averages. Graph 1 shows annual precipitation in inches for the years 1942-2018 for the Vinton weather station. If you take the average rainfall in the first ten years (1942-1951) compared to the last ten years (2009-2018), there is a six-inch difference in precipitation. If precipitation continues at this elevated level, what will that mean for our soils?

Graph 1

Graph 1

ISU’s Daily Erosion Project provides precipitation and soil loss averages at the HUC 12 watershed level. Graph 2 shows soil loss averages per year (2007-2018) for Wildcat Bluff-Cedar River Huc 12 watershed near Vinton. The first six years (2007-2012) shows an average of 1.66 tons of soil lost per year. The second six years (2013-2018) shows an average soil loss of 5.07 tons per year. That’s a difference of about 1.5 dump trucks full of soil I think it’s safe to say that the more rainfall we receive, the more soil we are losing.  So, what can we do about it?

Graph 2

Graph 2

 

We all know that we can’t control the weather, no matter how much we try, but we can control our soils. We can do that by utilizing different management practices such as no-till and cover crops. No-till and reduced tillage can help reduce detachment in the soil which is the first step in soil erosion. Cover crops increases soil infiltration and permeability, which means not as much ponding and standing water. There are so many proven benefits of these practices, not only for the environment, but also for your farm revenue. Contact us for more information about benefits, cost share opportunities, and management of these practices.

Bailey Klein