Post-Flood Midwest Farms a Wasteland. Deniers – “They need more CO2”
June 4, 2012
Devastating floods on the Missouri River last year were the type of event that will become more and more familiar in a warming world. In the ivory towers of Climate Denial think tanks, “CO2 is good for plants”. In the real world where the rest of us live, things get stickier.
Mason Hansen guns his pickup and cranks the steering wheel to spin through sand up to 4 feet high, but this is no day at the beach.
Hanson once grew corn and soybeans in the sandy wasteland in western Iowa, and his frustration is clear. Despite months spent hauling away tons of sand dropped when the flooded Missouri River engulfed his farm last summer, parts of the property still look like a desert.
Shawn Shouse, an Iowa State University engineer and agribusiness expert, said most farmers can repair their land, but for some it will take another year or two of work. The first chore is removing the sand.
“The sand doesn’t hold nutrients and water the way soil does, so it’s not suitable for growing crops,” he said. “If the deposits are thin, they can stir them into the soil and probably get along well. But when the deposits are several feet thick, they really have to move that sand somewhere else. That can be really expensive _ and you have to figure out what to do with it.”–
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved more than $20 million in disaster aid for Iowa and Nebraska, which will help farmers with the cost of moving sand, grading land and filling scour holes.
“It’s just totally, totally devastating,” Olson said. “The dollar amount for what it takes to put it all back together again is going to be tremendous. And it’s going to cost you, the taxpayer, in case you haven’t already figured that out.”
Hundreds of farmers are still struggling to remove sand and fill holes gouged by the Missouri River, which swelled with rain and snowmelt, overflowed its banks and damaged thousands of acres along its 2,341-mile route from Montana through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The worst damage and the largest sand deposits were in Iowa and Nebraska.
“We’ll be working on this for years,” Hansen said. “It’ll never be right. Ever. People don’t have any idea how big of a mess this is.”