Siouxland farmers weather floods, drought in back-to-back season - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland farmers weather floods, drought in back-to-back seasons


From the flood to the drought, it's been back to back growing seasons under extreme challenges and weather conditions.

"The water went anywhere from six inches to eight to 12 foot depending on where you are at," says Paul Dailey, a farmer in Jefferson, South Dakota.

Seven-hundred acres of Dailey's land sat underwater for three months. "Two years ago, during the flood, it was a tough time," says Dailey.

The flood was tough on him and everything that grows on his land. "It's pretty much a helpless feeling," says Dailey.  "There's nothing you could do about it.  It was hard to keep your sense of humor.  You were just wiped out."

The flood wiped out most of his crop and his income for the year. "Luckily I had crop insurance," says Dailey.  "That helped to cover some of the expenses of putting the crop in, but as far as making a profit?  No."

His trees still bear the scar from the Missouri river flood waters and so do his fields. "Standing in water that long, all the organisms and the bacteria that are in the soil would kill them," says Dailey.

The drought this past growing season only made the soil on Dailey's land even worse. "I believe that a back to back like that is very hard on the soil," says Larry Wagner, an agronomy crops field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension.  "It's very tough on production and it's going to take even longer to get it back into production."

Wagner works with farmers to make their soils more resistant to the weather extremes Siouxland had experienced the last two years.  He says planting a cover crop can help. "We need to do something after a catastrophic event or an extreme weather condition, so that we can bring that soil back into production as fast as possible," says Wagner.

But Dailey knows that could be a while. "It's going to be years before it's back to normal, if there is a normalcy anymore," says Dailey.

Across the river in Ponca, Nebraska, signs of the flood still linger on Mark Poulosky's fields. "This is what's left over from the flood that we still have to fill yet," says Poulosky pointing to a large hold in his field.  "There were holes big enough you could drop my house in."

Poulosky spent last winter filling those holes, leveling sand drifts, and tackling new weeds that floated in. "You've got to work hard," says Poulosky.  "It's a lot of work."

He got his fields back in shape for spring planting just in time for the drought to hit.  Poulosky, his wife, and his irrigation system worked over time this summer to save the crop. "At the time, my wife was wondering if we are just killing ourselves here you know?" says Poulosky.

It's a question Poulosky's been asking himself these tough two years when he counts on mother nature for a paycheck. "Sometimes you wonder if you are making any money or not," says Poulosky.

But even faced with the extreme challenges, he stays positive. "As a whole, you just have to take what you can get," says Poulosky.  "We're farmers you know and you just have to deal with mother nature sometimes and just kind of pick up and go on." 

He says he'll hope for a better conditions and fewer challenges next year.

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