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What to do with a floodplain

 
Todd McDonald
Posts: 39
Location: Mid-Missouri
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books chicken toxin-ectomy
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Looking for land right now and came across a great tract bordered by national forest land on two sides. About 20% of the property is bottom land that is in flood plain of a major creek/small river. Currently this land is planted in row crops but having lived around here for so long I know its the kind of spot that floods every few years, parts of it probably flood every spring. Anyone have any experience applying perennial polycultures in a floodplain? Is this best left to grazing and annuals?
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 640
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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trees
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Since you asked:
Relative Flood Tolerance of Non-Dormant Fruit Trees

In general, most things can tolerate at least a little bit of flooding and some perennials laugh at flooding (especially when they are dormant). One thing to remember is that not all floodplain land is created equal and a relatively subtle change within the floodplain can be the difference between somethings living and something dying.

Also, the National Weather Service has great information on flood tracking. Here's the one by me:
http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=ind&gage=bgdi3&prob_type=stage
 
Grant Schultz
Posts: 219
Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Todd McDonald wrote:Looking for land right now and came across a great tract bordered by national forest land on two sides. About 20% of the property is bottom land that is in flood plain of a major creek/small river. Currently this land is planted in row crops but having lived around here for so long I know its the kind of spot that floods every few years, parts of it probably flood every spring. Anyone have any experience applying perennial polycultures in a floodplain? Is this best left to grazing and annuals?


About 30 acres of my 145 acre farm is exactly as you describe. It flooded completely twice last year, and not at all this year. It was previously row-cropped, and the erosion is very apparent. I seeded the entire floodplain to pasture/hay mix. A polyculture orchard can get inundated in water and survive...but you have to get it there first. The big concern for tree or bush crops harvested for human consumption is the pathogen loads introduced when it does flood - the entire crop is immediately off-limits for at least 120 days. Grazing livestock there may be a different story. I think floodplains are best suited to grazing - with the clear establishment of adjacent high ground and escape routes for livestock in the event of flash flood.

Grant
 
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