Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Post-Drought Problems

The New York Times is reporting:
Since the beginning of the year, parts of the Mississippi River basin, from eastern Minnesota down through Illinois and Missouri, have received up to three times their normal precipitation. Storm systems also brought flooding to parts of Montana and the Dakotas, and into Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma. Iowa, the nation’s top corn producer, had a record 17.66 inches of precipitation this spring.
Just over 44 percent of the country remains in drought, down more than 9 percentage points from the beginning of March.
Ideally, farmers need the top two to four inches of soil to be dry when they are planting so that when they drive their tractors in the field they do not pack down the mud, which prevents the roots from getting oxygen. Oversaturated earth also means that pockets where oxygen can filter through to help the roots breathe will instead be filled with water. Ideally, the moisture should be in the soil directly below the seed.
 This was a problem last year in the UK, where a large part of the island was suddenly under water. This year, parts of the mid-west. The more-frequent occurence of outlier events such as these reinforce the need for a more resilient, less industrial, agriculture system.
So, say goodbye to the holocene era and hello to the anthropocene era.

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