In praise of subsoil moisture

Subsoil moisture is one of the greatest assets of farmers and ranchers in the Northern Plains.

When producers have it, their crops can withstand a prolonged stretch of hot, dry weather. The summer of 2012, when subsoil moisture was abundant, was a perfect example.

When producers don’t have subsoil moisture, their crops deteriorate during a hot, dry stretch. This summer, when subsoil moisture is scarce, is a perfect example.

I’ve talked with a number of farmers and farm group leaders over the past few days. Almost all say that hot, dry weather has hurt their crops, in some cases badly.

But as one farmer told me, “Yeah, it hasn’t rained. Yeah, there’s no sub moisture. But what can you do? It’s just the way it is.”

 

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