Mother Nature delivered a stiff blow to some Westman farmers throughout the weekend, as areas were hit hard by downpours that left pools of water laying in fields on Monday.
East of Russell, rain gauges caught anywhere between 2.5 and 5 inches of rain through last Friday to Monday, said RM of Silver Creek Reeve Fred Dunn.
The amount of rainfall coupled with the already high water table has formed what could be devastating pools of water in farmers’ fields.
“The water is going to have to evaporate because it won’t soak in because of the water table, which is going to lead to crop damage,” said Dunn, who farms 4,000 acres north of Angusville. “It all depends on how long the water sits on the fields, but because of last year and the year before, if we get even an inch of rain, we have water sitting around again.”
Pools of water can also cause rot and denitrification — where excess water creates and anaerobic environment — and plants that are starved for oxygen, begin to turn nitrogen into a gas and deplete it from the soil.
For the moment, however, the largest concern for farmers is how the water will affect the spraying season, Dunn said, adding that some farmers might look to use planes to spray, once the land dries up a bit.
The weather system forced Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation to declare a flood warning for agricultural lands downstream of the Shellmouth Reservoir to the Shellmouth Bridge near the Assiniboine River Valley on Friday.
“We aren’t affected by the (Assiniboine) river where we are, but I know that it is going over the Shellmouth dam again,” Dunn said.
Portions of the upper Assiniboine River have already experienced wet conditions as a result of storms this spring, which produced double the normal precipitation in the months of April and May.
Additional rainfall will result in increased reservoir inflow and levels, the province said, meaning more farmland could be at risk of flooding.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 12, 2012