With record floods receding all along the Missouri river valley producers are facing a daunting clean up. With sand up to 5 feet deep deposited over thousands of acres of land how do you clean it all up? First you must remember that the corps of engineers prohibits dumping it back into the river channel. They consider it contaminated preventing its introduction back into the river.
First why do you need to worry? After the 1993 floods many producers attempted to just plant in their field as they always had. Some areas didn’t produce and most that did dropped from 75 bushels per acre to about 15 bushels. No one was happy about that and we started looking for ways to get our fertility back.
Federal disaster grants are available to help with cost, but they are capped at 75% of the fair market value of the land before the flood.
For areas with less than a foot of sand deposits deep disking is usually the most cost-effective way of dealing with it. This will turn up some organic material for our soil.
Now to address areas with sand from one foot to 10 feet we turn to a track hoe. With a 180-degree swing and bucket widths up to 5 feet wide you can reach down and get the good black dirt. Once you start a large machine can turn over nearly a acre per day.
This works out to about $2500 per acre for the rehab cost but at 70 bushel beans vs 15 bushel per acre it seems like the only approach that works.
Because if the land is now only worth $2000 per acre when you bought it for $5000 per acre years back it must be productive enough to cover the loan. So, we continue to rehab section by section to restore the value to this once fertile delta.