It’s Halloween, and kids are dressing up as ghosts, vampires, and werewolves. That’s all child’s play—pun intended—to farmers across the country. Although farmer fears might not be as “spooky” as traditional trick-or-treating costumes, they are actually much scarier in the grand scheme of things. One thing that should be on the mind of all farmers is how well their drainage systems are holding up. A poor drain system leads to lost profits, and a network of poor drainage systems can even result in a national food shortage.
Here are three frightening events that can occur because of bad drainage. Everybody knows flooding is a possibility…but these three might shock you!
If we tell you to think about a place where disease is widespread, many people will think about the tropics. After all, warm and wet areas seem to promote mosquito and insect populations. That logic is correct, but don’t think that human diseases are the only varieties that enjoy wet, warm climates!
Moisture is the most relevant factor when bacteria and other disease-causing elements form. And it impacts plants just as much as animals.
Two examples of conditions that will thrive if your soil is saturated are club root and food rot. Clubroot is a form of mold that infects the roots of plants in the brassica family—including radishes, turnips, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. Food rot is more commonly known, impacting almost all fruits and vegetables. Mildew can harm more than just your basement! It also has dramatic impacts on wheat and poppy products. Keep your soil well-drained and you’ll be safer from these frightening fungi.
Fungi on your vegetables is uncomfortable enough, but poor drainage can create health problems for your livestock as well.
We referenced mosquitos above, and it’s no secret that these insects can spread disease among both humans and animals. Pooled water elevates the number of mosquitoes and flies breeding and buzzing around your animals.
Lesser-known bugs are even more gross. Moist soil also attracts slugs and snails, which are not problems by themselves. However, these organisms serve as conduits for liver flukes, which get into the digestive system of cattle, sheep and goats—potentially infecting them with fasciolosis.
Wait a minute…how are poor drainage and drought connected? One is the result of too much rain, and the other is caused by a lack of rain.
The simple explanation is that too much water makes plants “soft.” If they have a surplus of water, plants only grow their roots as far as they need to access that water. If watered properly, plants grow longer roots. This is an evolutionary trait; they can use these long roots to access water deep under the soil’s surface during times of drought. You can guess what happens to the short-root plants during a drought.
For now, have a Happy Halloween! But take some time to consider whether your drainage system is up-to-date. Don’t let your fields become crop graveyards.