Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Stewards of the Land?
For at least the last ten years, this was a field of grass. Most of the 25 or so acres are out of the picture and slope steeply up from this waterway. Last fall the field was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. This spring it was planted to small grain and a "grassless" waterway was cut in after planting.
For at least fifteen years up until around 2009, this 80 acre field had been in perennial alfalfa. Most years three crops were harvested, baled and removed from the field with precise attention to how the weather dictated it be done. In 2009 the alfalfa was killed with herbicide, the field was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. Corn was planted in the few inches of organic soil that overlaid the parent sand. One rain event turned the field from rich brown to tan, and gullies began to form in the waterways. Now it is in the corn/bean rotation with this year being the bean year. The gullies grow and the deltas of sand enlarge.
For at least twenty years up until 2010, this 80 acre field was the stuff of the sand plain - prairie smoke, big bluestem, Indian grass, and tumbleweed and a few stunted pioneering jackpine. The last greater prairie chicken that I saw on the Shell Prairie was here about twenty five years ago. Then in the fall of 2010 it was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. The forty across the road got the same treatment. A center pivot irrigator was installed to make up for coarse sandy soil and the naturally dry climate. In 2011 it was planted to spuds maybe, 2012 to corn, and this year to beans.
I may be off on the timing of these changes by a year or two, but "Hey" its just an observation of my commute. I don't collect data on this stuff............I just watch shit happen.............................. Stewards?