Getting closer…

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yesterday, the sun came out and the temperatures were a pleasant 75ºF.  It finally ‘felt’ like spring.  The soils are drying out, getting us closer to planting.  We focused our attention to the Burke farm, where the Shepards were working to close a gap in the ditch bank along Kessinger Ditch.  Instead of an opening in the bank that allows rising water in the ditch to flow directly into the field, there now is a 36″ culvert through the ditch bank (it’s like a levee) that has a one-way gate on the ditch side.  The area was re-shaped, dead trees were removed, and a field drainage tile that emptied into the opening was extended through the now closed-up levee into the main ditch itself.  Now, if the ditch rises from a heavy rain event, the water will be held out of the field, and if rain water collects inside the ditch bank, it will flow to the new culvert and out of the field once the Kessinger Ditch water recedes.  This was a high priority we identified when we purchased the Burke farm last fall, and it is very satisfying to see this project accomplished.

Where previously there was a gap in this ditch bank, with a tile that emptied in it, you can see Gene Shepard preparing to push the gap closed. Below, the tile drain outlet is being extended from R to L, so that it will empty into Kessinger Ditch.  This was drain was all covered up when the ditch bank was filled in.  Nearby, a 3-foot diameter culvert was installed to take surface water from the field to the main ditch.

Where previously there was a gap in this ditch bank, with a tile that emptied in it, you can see Gene Shepard preparing to push the gap closed. Below, the tile drain outlet is being extended from R to L, so that it will empty into Kessinger Ditch. This drain was all covered up when the ditch bank was filled in. Nearby, a 3-foot diameter culvert was installed to take surface water from the field to the main ditch.  No more should a big rain allow water to run into the field from Kessinger Ditch!

As as final touch for this project, John sowed fescue seed on the areas of the ditch bank where the soil was moved.  This provides a sort of filter strip for this riparian area– a 30-or-so-foot wide strip that we can mow in the summer and maintain the ditch.  It is important to keep brush from getting started on the water side of the ditch bank, we want to keep that slope protected with sod, not growing up in trees that will impair the flow of water.

It may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it is a good way to plant grass on areas like this.  We load the bag with fescue seed, and John cranks the attached spreader as he walks along.  Hopefully, we will be mowing this ditch bank in July.

It may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it is a good way to plant grass on areas like this. We load the bag with fescue seed, and John cranks the attached spreader as he walks along.   The Gator sits atop the newly-completed ditch bank project.  Hopefully, we will be mowing this new fescue sod in July.

As Shepards completed their tasks, John sprayed the Burke farm with soybean herbicide yesterday evening.  Next operation will come the soybean planter… and soon, we hope!

We will check again today to see if some planting can occur soon.  I’m thinking I may be able to plant the soybeans at the Holscher farm tomorrow.  They have moved the rain prediction for Thursday back to Friday now.

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