Lack of snow, frost threatens farm fields
The following article, posted below, was posted by Fox 11 News on 12/14/2015 by Eric Peterson: http://fox11online.com/news/local/northwoods/oconto-county-flooded-farm-fields
OCONTO COUNTY — In addition to closing roads in Northeast Wisconsin, Monday’s rain also soaked area farm fields.
And with no snow cover to slow it down, much of the runoff raced right downstream.
Oconto County was one area where many farmers are trying to dry out. At the Riverview Dairy in the town of Oconto, dairy cows had to head for higher, drier ground.
“I was hoping we weren’t getting this much. They were saying three, three inches or more, the other day, but yeah, we got it,” said dairy farmer Dave Matravers.
What we got, was a long, steady rain. It quickly filled the fields, ditches, and culverts.
“There’s considerable flooding. More so on the east side of the county,” said Ken Dolata, Oconto County conservationist.
Dolata says with no snow to hold back the flow, his biggest fear is soil, rich in farm nutrients, washing away.
“Once a gully starts eroding, as the water keeps running, it can just chew back and just get worse and worse,” said Dolata.
“It’s easy to see. When you drive along the flooded rivers, and I say, the color of the water, it was nice and clear a couple of days ago, not anymore,” he said.
And there is the frost factor. Many agree, by mid-December we should have at least some freezing conditions. But experts say the warm temperatures could put some of the fields in the area at risk.
“You get all this standing water our on the hay fields, and it freezes. It kills the alfalfa, so that farmers end up with damaged fields, and they got to re-plant the next year,” said Dolata.
Dolata says he will patrol the county again in a couple of days to check for damage. He says any repairs will have to wait until the spring.
Meanwhile, Dave Matravers will ride out what he calls a rare mid-December rain.
“There ain’t much you can do about it. You just got to live with it. What else can you do?” he said.