Several Wayne County farmers have expressed concern to me over the number of pipeline projects scheduled to cut across farmland and the resulting impact on soil productivity and length of time it will take to restore disturbed areas to anything resembling normal productivity. Steve Culman, OSU Extension soil fertility specialist has taken an interest in this topic. The following article is his call for farmer cooperators to help document the impact of pipelines on soil productivity.
Numerous natural gas pipelines have been approved across the state with installation to begin this winter and continue over the next several years. These installations are state-wide projects that will collectively result in a large amount of soil disturbance. The effect of this disturbance on crop productivity, and how long it may persist is largely unknown.
Ohio State Extension will be starting a pilot study to document the effects of pipeline installations on crop productivity over the next several years. We are looking for interested farmers who will have a pipeline installed through their farm to participate.
Our approach will be to use paired-comparisons of 1) area disturbed by pipeline installation vs. adjacent area that was not disturbed. We will compare soil properties and yield maps between installation area and adjacent area over the next several years. We will need numerous sites to have scientifically robust information.
Interested farmer cooperators wanting to document the effects on their farm will need to:
- Identify and GPS reference one or more paired areas on their farms. These paired areas should be as similar as possible (equally productive, same soil type, same slope, tile, drainage, organic matter, etc.)
- Have yield map files from 2015 harvest in these areas (preferably have yield maps from several previous years)
- Sample baseline soils in these areas this fall after harvest but prior to pipeline installation
- Be committed to sample soils and crop tissue from these areas and share yield maps from these areas every year
We are calling this a pilot project because we have yet to secure funding to conduct this research. But we need baseline information before the installation for the study to be meaningful. Interested famers/ landholders can contact Steve Culman, for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at: (330) 263-3787.