Parts of Nebraska experienced significant rainfall last week, with some areas receiving over nine inches in just a few hours. Although the moisture was welcomed in most areas, some areas experienced damages like flooding and soil erosion.
Craig Derickson, state conservationist with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Nebraska, erosion problems have been high in fields that have recently been broken out for cropland production, or fields that lack structural conservation practices like terraces and waterways.
"High prices driven by a strong demand for our commodities are boosting farm income but are putting enormous pressure on our land and water resources. We're seeing more land broken out to farm and fewer conservation practices like terraces and waterways, which can result in more soil erosion," Derickson says.
This became apparent following heavy rainfall in early June. On some farms, when heavy rains came, conservation practices were not in place to help prevent soil from washing away.
"Our staff is seeing erosion issues on cropland across the state," he says. "In draws where trees were recently removed and then planted through, the newly planted crop has been washed away and there are deep gullies. This is creating concern among NRCS staff as we conduct field visits to do conservation compliance checks."
As part of the 1985 Farm Bill, conservation compliance was enacted. This created a partnership between farmers and ranchers and the USDA. In exchange for farm program benefits, farmers agreed to adopt land management practices to reduce soil erosion, conserve water, create wildlife habitat and protect wetlands. According to USDA, this resulted in soil erosion being cut by 40 percent on 140 million acres of cropland.
The USDA Farm Service Agency partners with NRCS in the conservation compliance process. "Farmers and landowners certify their compliance by completing a Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Certification," according to FSA State Director Dan Steinkruger. "We ask farmers to work with the NRCS to evaluate the conservation planning and assistance needed on their farms."