Preparing for extreme weather events using tiling as a powerful risk management tool

November 7, 2016

sarahewittblogBy Sara Hewitt, Farmer, Ag Educator, & Marketing Director of Hewitt Drainage Equipment

In September, areas of Minnesota received over 10 inches of rainfall over the span of two days. This caused significant flooding, damage to homes and buildings, and farmers in the area losing entire fields of crops waiting for harvest. Fields with water touching the grain portion of the crop, or adulterated crop, have to be destroyed and cannot be sold for the food or feed market. Many farmers, myself included, harvested around areas of crop that were under water, leaving the crop standing in the field and becoming part of fall tillage instead.

Preparing for this amount of rainfall so quickly is nearly impossible, but more extreme weather events are predicted to happen. According to USDA research at their established Climate Hubs, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, storms, heavy downpours, and heavy snowfall are projected to increase. Farmers will need to include water mitigation as part of their overall risk management plan.

Farmers should evaluate their current drainage systems for failures, additional installations or the need of other options such as terraces or buffer strips to aid in preparation for extreme weather events. Outdated clay and cement tile may fail at a higher rate due to more frequent and heavy rain events. Replacing older systems of tile should be looked at as a preventative measure. Rather than having to be reactive when old tile line collapses, by replacing systems ahead of time, you won’t lose out on productivity or crop growth. Without utilizing new tile installation as a preventative measure, farmers may see an increase in flooded spots in fields, poor root growth, and stunted crops.

As these extreme weather events continue to happen, preparation will truly be an integral part of a farm operation’s success. With detailed tile mapping and installation, preparing for the extreme has become simpler and easier. By gaining access to fields sooner, reduced nutrient run-off, and deeper root growth, farmers utilizing tile as part of their long-term planning will be benefiting during periods of increased rainfall, as well as drought.

As a farm family, planning for the future is part of our whole operation from transition planning to taking care of our soil or the next generation. Foreseeing an increase in extreme weather events is now an item to check off on our business plan. Tiling continues to be one of our most powerful risk management tools by allowing us to gain a competitive edge in the spring, through weather events, and with increased yields during harvest.

Categories: Agriculture