Reclaiming flooded land: Woody debris

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After a flood event, a landowner may find that some new “organic matter” has been deposited on the field, but in the form of woody debris, which may cause some problems in future field operations. This woody debris can easily be up to 2 to 3 inches in diameter, or more. In many cases, the debris will be too scattered to burn.

The main risks of woody debris include damage to harvest equipment and during planting operations. Larger diameter branches (>3 inches) will not readily decompose and might wedge into the planter units. Also, short logs could pose a hazard to combines. 

Some possible solutions include: 

1.  Residue managers or row cleaners on the planter might be able to move the smaller debris out of the way. Take the planter to the field as early as possible to test whether or not it can open and close the furrow without plugging repeatedly. Strip-tillage equipment may also be able to move woody debris out of the row. 

2.  Flood-deposited debris is often oriented in one direction, so it might be possible to plant the rows in a direction that is not perpendicular to the flood debris.

3.  If all else fails, and it is not at all practical to pick up the residue manually, a harrow or drag could be used to collect or windrow the debris into piles for collecting later, or perhaps burning in place.  

4.  If none of the above option are workable or appealing, some type of cutting tillage (e.g. disk) may be the only alternative.



DeAnn Presley, Soil Management Specialist

Tags:  flooding