These pictures aren’t of our fields. You’ve seen photos of Daddy and Anna repairing soil on terraces. I’ve shared our rye grass project. But this isn’t something we do on our farm; these pics are of a neighbor’s field.
You likely know that terraces are mounds of dirt shaped like the hill designed to stop soil from washing down a field and into streams. You can see in the photographs how this farmer is actually growing hay in strips where the terraces are– right in the middle of his corn field!
The hay is actually bromegrass, which means our friend had to buy the seed and plant it where he wanted it to grow. Bromegrass grows well in drought–making this farmer look smart at the moment! It also has a strong root system that makes it a good choice to hold the soil in place for erosion control.
By doing this, the farmer gets hay for his cattle to eat in the winter and protects the land at the same time!
Harvest has officially started. And we, like nearly everyone else, are leaving long strips of corn in the fields.
What is this all about? Well, most farmers purchase crop insurance each spring. Just like someone might buy insurance in case of a car accident or home fire, farmers insure crops in case of a Mother Nature disaster. People hired by the insurance companies come out to look at the crops and see how bad the damages are. Leaving strips in the middle of the field allows a farmer to get on with harvest while leaving a sample for testing by the companies.
Have you seen strips like this left in fields near you?
Maybe you’ve heard about it on the news, or maybe you can look out your window and see it, but what is a drought? And why is it so important this year?
Drought brings to mind hot, dry summers, but the actual meaning of the word is just that there is not enough water supply to meet the demand. There are actually three types of drought and one of them is called agricultural drought. It means there is not enough water for plants to grow. Usually agricultural drought is caused by a lack of rain, but it is possible for farmers to be experiencing drought while others in the cities and towns are not.
The reason is that plants need water more at some times that others. If the corn is ready to pollinate or if the kernels are filling out the plant needs more water than usual. If the ground is dry just for these important steps it can mess up the entire plant. A well-timed rain can be just as important as lots of rain.
Agricultural drought affects everyone. This year the drought is over many places in the US. That means food of all kinds is struggling to grow. But drought is affecting even more than food this year. Some towns are having problems with getting enough water for people to use for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. These towns must stop people from washing their cars, watering their gardens, or filling pools. Wild animals are also struggling for food, since the grasses, bushes, and berries they usually eat are burnt. Trees are already loosing their leaves.
Brainstorm a list of all the ways you use water. Which can be affected by drought? Leave me a comment and tell us if you already see signs of the drought where you are.