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  1. #1
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    High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    When prices for corn and soybeans surged last fall, Bill Hammitt, a farmer in the fertile hill country of western Iowa, began to see the bulldozers come out, clearing steep hillsides of trees and pastureland to make way for more acres of the state’s staple crops. Now, as spring planting begins, with the chance of drenching rains, Mr. Hammitt worries that such steep ground is at high risk for soil erosion — a farmland scourge that feels as distant to most Americans as tales of the Dust Bowl and Woody Guthrie ballads.
    Long in decline, erosion is once again rearing as a threat because of an aggressive push to plant on more land, changing weather patterns and inadequate enforcement of protections, scientists and environmentalists say.
    “There’s a lot of land being converted into row crop in this area that never has been farmed before,” said Mr. Hammitt, 59, explaining that the bulldozed land was too steep and costly to farm to be profitable in years of ordinary prices. “It brings more highly erodible land into production because they’re out to make more money on every acre.”
    Now, research by scientists at Iowa State University provides evidence that erosion in some parts of the state is occurring at levels far beyond government estimates. It is being exacerbated, they say, by severe storms, which have occurred more often in recent years, possibly because of broader climate shifts.
    “The thing that’s really smacking us now are the high-intensity, high-volume rainstorms that we’re getting,” said Richard M. Cruse, an agronomy professor at Iowa State who directs the Iowa Daily Erosion Project. “In a variety of locations, we’re losing topsoil considerably faster — 10 to as much as 50 times faster — than it’s forming.”
    Erosion can do major damage to water quality, silting streams and lakes and dumping fertilizers and pesticides into the water supply. Fertilizer runoff is responsible for a vast “dead zone,” an oxygen-depleted region where little or no sea life can exist, in the Gulf of Mexico. And because it washes away rich topsoil, erosion can threaten crop yields. Significant gains were made in combating erosion in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the federal government began to require that farmers receiving agricultural subsidies carry out individually tailored soil conservation plans.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/bu....html?src=recg



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    This has been happening for years. Maybe not to the same extent but it's been happening. There's only so much land out there and with advances in seed, chemicals, fertilizer, etc, this land has become something you can farm and make a profit on. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but it's just the way it is. Land is always in great demand and with the capability of farming more acres, farmers will take the land they can get.


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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    The high prices are great for farmers, and I'm happy for them. On the other hand, its also bad news for water quality, fishing, wildlife, and outdoor recreation in the state. And I doubt there are many stormwater detention basins being constructed to handle the increase in stormwater runoff associated with clearing ground for planting, so it won't be good for flood control either. There is always tradeoffs.



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by CloneIce View Post
    The high prices are great for crop farmers, and I'm happy for them. On the other hand, its also bad news for water quality, fishing, wildlife, and outdoor recreation in the state. And I doubt there are many stormwater detention basins being constructed to handle the increase in stormwater runoff associated with clearing ground for planting, so it won't be good for flood control either. There is always tradeoffs.
    fixed it for you. my dad's a hog farmer and the high prices have not been good for him



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by CloneIce View Post
    The high prices are great for farmers, and I'm happy for them. On the other hand, its also bad news for water quality, fishing, wildlife, and outdoor recreation in the state. And I doubt there are many stormwater detention basins being constructed to handle the increase in stormwater runoff associated with clearing ground for planting, so it won't be good for flood control either. There is always tradeoffs.
    The flip side is farmers have more money to put in proper waterways, tile, terraces and other water control systems.


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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by abe2010 View Post
    fixed it for you. my dad's a hog farmer and the high prices have not been good for him
    Whats the price of hogs today?


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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by CloneIce View Post
    The high prices are great for farmers, and I'm happy for them. On the other hand, its also bad news for water quality, fishing, wildlife, and outdoor recreation in the state. And I doubt there are many stormwater detention basins being constructed to handle the increase in stormwater runoff associated with clearing ground for planting, so it won't be good for flood control either. There is always tradeoffs.
    You have to realize, though that a lot of the 2010 crop was not sold at the 5-7 dollar mark. I would bet the vast majority of corn was sold around $4, which is still very good but inputs were also driven way up and they will continue to go up throughout the summer.


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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by kingcy View Post
    Whats the price of hogs today?
    No ****.......even with high priced corn you should be able to make money when May lean hogs are $103 / cwt.



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by yaman3 View Post
    You have to realize, though that a lot of the 2010 crop was not sold at the 5-7 dollar mark. I would bet the vast majority of corn was sold around $4, which is still very good but inputs were also driven way up and they will continue to go up throughout the summer.
    Tell me about it. Corn jumps over 50 cents in a couple day perios and then levels off and I react and sell a crap ton at 3.75 in July and think I am the worlds greatest grain marketer for about five days. Then I get to sit and watch and get more and more ****** everyday as corn climbs close to 6 bucks. Oh well it's all part of the game.



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    I have to wonder how profitable it is to plant right alongside a cutbank only to lose your crops and land to erosion. It doesn't make sense to me, but it is definitely happening. These pictures were taken along the Nishnabotna River here in IA last Summer.



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by yaman3 View Post
    You have to realize, though that a lot of the 2010 crop was not sold at the 5-7 dollar mark. I would bet the vast majority of corn was sold around $4, which is still very good but inputs were also driven way up and they will continue to go up throughout the summer.
    That's true... I'm thinking more in comparison to past years and decades. Heck, back in the 80's, prices were low, farmers loved putting lots of land into CRP, great for hunting, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. With prices high and other factors, the state has lost much of that CRP ground, which is the main reason for the drastic decline in pheasant numbers (loss of habitat has a much, much greater effect than bad weather, no matter what anyone tries to convince you). There's good and bad to everything.

    That article is pretty crazy though, imagining someone clearing those steep Loess hillsides for farming. That is some rugged terrain out there, times must be good if they are going to the effort to clear that type of ground. And with so many mouths to feed as developing countries continue to develop, prices should stay pretty high (and food prices).



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I have to wonder how profitable it is to plant right alongside a cutbank only to lose your crops and land to erosion. It doesn't make sense to me, but it is definitely happening. These pictures were taken along the Nishnabotna River here in IA last Summer.
    That is crazy. Dude is planting right on the high bank. Now that is squeezing every row of crops in that is humanly possible. Bad conservation practices right there.

    Is the DNR's stream buffer strip program still active?



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by CloneIce View Post
    That is crazy. Dude is planting right on the high bank. Now that is squeezing every row of crops in that is humanly possible. Bad conservation practices right there.

    Is the DNR's stream buffer strip program still active?
    There is still a CRP stream buffer program. I don't know how competitive the prices are in today's market though.

    I should say that I also don't know if it was a landowner or leaser who planted that year. I have a hard time believing a landowner would jeopardize his own soil in that way.



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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion


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    Re: High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    There is still a CRP stream buffer program. I don't know how competitive the prices are in today's market though.

    I should say that I also don't know if it was a landowner or leaser who planted that year. I have a hard time believing a landowner would jeopardize his own soil in that way.
    My mom's CRP buffer strips currently pay her $265/acre.



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