Sustainable Farm Partners

Click here to go back
March 21st, 2015 by sfp

WEATHER, GEOGRAPHY, AND SUSTAINABLE FARMING

There is a lot of uncertainty in predicting the weather … so we won’t. We know however that climate change is disrupting historic weather patterns more and more.

sfp2010rain SoilEroson
2010 Rains 2012 Drought

2012 experienced the worst drought in North America in 50 years and caused havoc with farmers. 2010 delivered 10” down pours causing erosion and flooding. SFP anticipates more extreme weather in the future.

As erratic as the weather can get, there are strategies that SFP management deploy to mitigate these weather challenges. In our experience the opportunities to better manage the impact of bad weather are found in organic farming where more diverse crop rotations create better ground cover that holds in moisture during dry periods and mitigates soil erosion during wet periods. Combining organic farming practices with good irrigation and drainage planning is our strategy.

Dealing With Local Weather Conditions

Different strategies are designed to fit the different field contours and soil structures on farmland. For flooding, one strategy includes pattern tiling.

Pattern Tiling for Drainage: Trenches are dug in a pattern across a field that has standing water problems.  Buried in these trenches are plastic pipes with holes in them that take in excess water and direct it away and into a drainage ditch. The depth and location of the pipes vary depending on the soil type and topography of the ground.

Tilepattern

Center-Pivot for Irrigation: When more water is needed irrigation can mitigate the problem. There are different ways to irrigate a field. In some areas like Colorado and the Central Valley of California, flood irrigation is used to flood the surface of the field. When flying across states like Nebraska and Iowa you’ll see big green circles. These are center pivot irrigators where the irrigation pipes are suspended from towers that travel in a circle.

CenterPivot

Geographic Location and Farming

Geography also plays a part in anticipating weather conditions that are more favorable to farming. Where a farm is located geographically is important as regards precipitation. As a general rule from historical records, precipitation to the east of the 100th meridian has adequate rainfall for growing crops. To the west of the 100th meridian it is much dryer requiring elaborate water management strategies that depend on snow pack and massive water storage (dams) and canal systems. To quote Mark Twain, in these parts “Whisky is for sippin’ and water is for fighting over”.

 

100thMeridianMap

SFP chooses its farmland carefully keeping weather and geography in mind to optimize farmland investments.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *