Recent Rains Haven't Stopped Dirt From Blowing

Recent Rains Haven't Stopped Dirt From Blowing

Downpours leave water pooled and soil dries to a crust, becoming vulnerable to the relentless winds.

It rained in southern Wichita County on Tuesday night. But that didn't stop the relentless wind from filling the air with dirt from farm fields on Friday.

"Welcome to the Dust Bowl," was Rick Horton's greeting at his family farm and wheat seed business near Leoti.

Horton said the 0.54 inches of rain that came Tuesday night all fell in about 15 minutes.

"It just pounded down. There was no time for it to soak in, so it just pooled in the fields and then dried to a crust. As soon as the winds came up, that started to blow."

He said bigger rains a week or two ago were also downpours.

"That helps, any moisture is good moisture, but it doesn't do the good that a nice slow rain would do," he said.

DUSTY DAY: Blowing dirt from farm fields in southern Wallace County left a haze in front of this farmstead along the Wallace-Scott county line road.

There is no question the rain has helped drought-stricken Kansas. Pastures in Kearny, Hamilton, Wichita and Scott counties are showing patches of green for the first time in years. Dryland corn and milo are green and growing, a welcome sight after major losses to wheat this year.

Blowing dirt, however, is still a problem. On Friday afternoon, visibility was severely reduced in some areas and the milo seedlings in the field across the road from Horton's seed cleaning operation were blowing out of the ground. Along the Wallace-Scott county line road, a haze of dust obscured farmsteads in the distance.

A lack of residue on the soil surface is one of the conditions making the blowing worse. Even though most of the area's farmers practice no-till, the year-after-year drought has meant less and less plant matter in the fields and the recent downpours of rain have washed away what little was left, leaving the soil bare and vulnerable.

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