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There are hectares upon hectares of flooded agricultural fields in our areas. Well it rains and snows a lot and that results in lot of water drenched fields. I'm totally convinced that the water does not flow to the deeper soils due to the years and year of non sustainable agricultural practices such as tilling, mono crop and so on. Having said that now is the right opportunity to buy some of this land and convert field to permafarm.

I have some ideas on how to solve the yearly problem such as creating ponds where all the excess water would drain to, plant deep rooted perennials and so forth.

Anyone out there has had any similar experiences \ solutions with flooded fields?



 
Tyler Ludens
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There is a hayfield about 1/2 mile from me which is regularly flooded and waterlogged.  During these periods it's filled with wonderful herons, ducks, etc.  Personally, I think the owners should dig a permanent pond for the excess water to drain to, and give up trying to grow hay on that corner of the field.  This might also help protect the road that goes by there from flooding so badly.

 
                          
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Generally when an area floods the water comes from somewhere else.  Not a lot you can do to prevent that.  We must remember that flooding is a naturally occurring thing and that some of the best farmland in the world exists because of that flooding.  Flooding drops nutrient rich silt on the soil.
 
tel jetson
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Tinknal wrote:
Generally when an area floods the water comes from somewhere else.  Not a lot you can do to prevent that.  We must remember that flooding is a naturally occurring thing and that some of the best farmland in the world exists because of that flooding.  Flooding drops nutrient rich silt on the soil.


depends on where the land in question is.  if there's nutrient rich silt in floodwater, some place upriver must be eroding.

if floods occur because of high groundwater, improving drainage and digging ponds won't solve the problem.
 
                          
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tel jetson wrote:
depends on where the land in question is.  if there's nutrient rich silt in floodwater, some place upriver must be eroding.

if floods occur because of high groundwater, improving drainage and digging ponds won't solve the problem.


Come visit the valley of the Red River of the North in Minnesota and North Dakota sometime.  Finest farm land on the planet.  River clay is rich in nutrients and I believe that the river itself creates much of the nutrients.  Either way, the river has flooded since Lake Agassi disappeared 10,000 years ago.  Natural redistribution of soil nutrients.
 
                                    
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The floods happen due to the area being totally flat. Some pics can be seen here.

http://www.idokep.hu/hirek/belviz-madartavlatbol-2010-december

I mean the area is even called the flood plains and its a basin - yet the whole are villages and agricultural fields; which are rich in nutrients but the soil tends to get saline due to all the water evaporating in Summer.
 
Paul Cereghino
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If you have them available, I would look at well logs to get a better idea of what groundwater is doing.  It looks like you have realtively even rainfall with a low in winter and a peak in june-july... sounds lovely -- we have dry summer here.

I would pay attention to subtle topography... a foot of elevation can drive the kind of vegetation that will thrive.

Calculate the volume of water you are trying to work with... I am not sure that ponds would do much to change the hydrology, which I would suspect is driven by landscape position.  The pond will be a pond but may not substantially change the runoff and groundwater system.

Just clearing forest in the headwaters can radically increase flooding... you are looking at watershed phenomena that operates at a larger scale that the site.  It is hard to find good floodplain topographic maps (we use LIDAR here but it is not common), local knowledge of flood patterns is usually the best.

When you dig a pond, you are creating a high spot with the cut material... you can also accidentally bury nice topsoil.  You are manipulating topography against the background surface and groundwater levels, not dramatically changing the hydrology.

Saturated soil during bud break is a critical threshold for which species grow.  Many farmers in these settings develop complex systems of ditches to drain soils for early tillage and annual plant agriculture.  The Pc way would be to create a mosaic of vegetation communities adapted to the variable hydrology on the site -- however since you have summer rains... saving every drop of flood water may not be your need.

I'd visit other people with ponds in the vicinity and talk to them about how they work.
 
                        
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if it is a natural flood plain then it should be left to nature, that is its purpose in life.

even putting in a pond once the pond fills and rain keeps soming then the plain will flood.

for me i would never conider buying any property that is on a flood plain.

len
 
Emerson White
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If the problem is hard pan from too much plowing the answer is to plow deeper. Mould board plowing created hardpan just a few inches below what the plow could reach. Breaking it up just once and leaving it after that could allow water to percolate through in a more natural fashion. Leaving behind the rich flood clay and moving the water on down river.
 
Paul Cereghino
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An implement like a chisel plow might be better than mouldboard plow for this function and may be well if you have a true flood plain soil (few rocks).  Good through.  Yet another reason to dig holes and read what is happening underground.
 
                          
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gardenlen wrote:
if it is a natural flood plain then it should be left to nature, that is its purpose in life.

even putting in a pond once the pond fills and rain keeps soming then the plain will flood.

for me i would never conider buying any property that is on a flood plain.

len


Why would one not want to utilize the best possible farm land?
 
Emerson White
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The Romans knew that the flood plains were the best places to farm, but also knew that there was danger of ruining your houses that took a long time to build, so they made mounds out on the flood plains and built their houses on top of them. That way they could access the fertile bottom lands with out great travels or great risks.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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A cold-adapted breed of upland rice might be worth considering, for the time being.

While it's flooded, the field won't have any weeds besides aquatic plants, and in that niche, azolla or similar will do the rice no harm. As the field dries out, the rice will continue growing, and have a considerable head start versus any terrestrial weeds.

I might experiment with broadcasting the rice before the flooding really gets serious.
 
                          
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
A cold-adapted breed of upland rice might be worth considering, for the time being.

While it's flooded, the field won't have any weeds besides aquatic plants, and in that niche, azolla or similar will do the rice no harm. As the field dries out, the rice will continue growing, and have a considerable head start versus any terrestrial weeds.

I might experiment with broadcasting the rice before the flooding really gets serious.


Joel, for rice production you have to be able to control the water.  Letting nature randomly take care of it will not do.  I'm betting that the majority of flooding that the OP is talking about is spring melt.  This really doesn't affect the use of the land in most cases.  The water is gone by planting time.
 
                          
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Location: Hawaii
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take advantage of each season with the right crops.  Flooding is going to kill your off season flood crop then its time to plant your wet crop.  Here in Hawaii we dont have the freeze factor but we have lots of flooded fields.  Winter flooded fields are taro, ong choi, water cress, and prawns while the dry season crop is any annual vegetable. In Japan they like to alternate rice with buckwheat.  That might work for you?
 
Emerson White
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I'd be really surprised if he managed a flood crop.
 
                          
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Location: Hawaii
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you'd be suprised if the poster managed a flood crop or me?  I've brought in over a hundred thousand pounds of harvested of taro in ten years.  Is that surprising? 
 
Emerson White
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The poster, I'm sure Taro works in HI, I'm just not sure flood crops transfer that well to the rest of the country, if you don't have a controlled paddy.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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If the land is perfectly flat, perhaps some minor earthworks would allow enough control of water that a flood crop would be possible.

Also, notice that I'm not talking about paddy rice, but upland rice, which tolerates flooding but does not require it.
 
Michael Radelut
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Matt Ferrall
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Here in the Pacific Northwest I have planted many wet fields doing wetland restoration.Malus fusca,our native apple can withstand standing water most of the year and makes a great rootstock for domestic apples.
 
                          
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Planting water sucking trees(willows) and digging ponds will not effectively control this situation. Trees only take up water when leaves are on them.

You could dig the low spots deeper and create actual ponds that are usable for fish etc.

Or ditching/french drains if required. But it's incredibly important that you are draining it to somewhere of a lower level. With such flat land you must be careful you are not wasting energy, it may only fill the ditch with water and not leave.

Wet fields such as that will likely not be good for the longer season crops such as tomatoes because soil remains cold/wet late into spring, and might get wet again in fall(?)

If there is plenty of "good" land on the property, there is no harm leaving a nice piece for birds and frogs.
 
Brenda Groth
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there can be a lot of flooding around here in the spring, as we get the snow melt on top of the solidly frozen ground and the water can't soak in..you might be seeing something similar..which doesn't really represent the true drainage of your soil..

here the ground thaws weeks after the snowcover melts..
 
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