Risk - Up ­

Intense, 5- or 6-inch rain events in parts of Illinois this spring caused residue movement and soil erosion, says Mike Plumer, Illinois Council of Best Management Practices. Conservation practices and no-till significantly reduced the impact of these rains, he says, but the intensity caused erosion even on farms with good conservation practices.

It was the same in Southeast Minnesota and other Corn Belt areas. “Climate science is pointing to more spring seasons like this one, and more intense rainfall events,” says Tim Radatz, research specialist for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center. One heavy downpour on unprotected soil can cause the majority of annual soil and nutrient losses. “This is really important when we look at ways to reduce runoff.”

Adds Frame, “You can’t control big storms, but you can design and implement farming systems that provide as much protection as possible from those storm events. You can plan for 25-year, 24-hour storms.”