Harvest may wind down in a couple weeks, but many who suffered big-time damage to fields and the general landscape earlier this year, either in the June or September debacles, are likely hoping for continued decent weather to get some ground work done before winter sets in. For those folks the year won't be over just because the crop is out of the field.
Specialists advise continuing to check with your local Farm Service Agency office about any possible help on repairing damaged areas. Meanwhile, some soil and water conservation districts are doing what they can to provide advice on reclaiming damaged lands. Some of the worst damage occurred along flood plains, also called river bottoms, in southwest Indiana. Some areas along the Wabash River separating Indiana and Illinois were especially hard hit.
Troy Hinkle, district conservationist, based at Vincennes, says they're promoting the use of cover crops to help protect these barren areas during the winter. The Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District is supportive of this effort.
Unfortunately, not all of the covers have been established yet, Hinkle noted last week. Good weather to allow establishment of some sort of cover to protect these areas during the vulnerable winter and early spring months would be very helpful.
Responding to flood damage did not cause the Knox County SWCD to drop its other ongoing programs and lose sight of its overall mission, Hinkle assures. The SWCD is actively supporting a program whereby interns are checking water quality in all streams within the county. That effort continued this summer, despite the inclement weather and temporary emergencies that staff dealt with during the course of the summer. Reports on some of those testing projects will be discussed in upcoming issues of Indiana Prairie Farmer.
At least one farm further south in Posey County may never be the same after the flood. Word form a local farmer there is that the Wabash River actually changed course, claiming part of what was farmed for itself, and isolating other acres on the opposite side of the river. While the owners are still exploring options, it's too early to tell what the outcome will be, the farmer noted. However, it's possible some of that land actually rendered nearly useless for farming by the June '08 flood may wind up in some sort of conservation use for wildlife.