Laser Leveling Stewardship Program
What is it?
Poor drainage in farm fields can impact productivity by causing soil compaction, soil erosion, salt accumulation – and even crop failure. Under DFWT’s Laser Leveling program, contractors use laser emitters, global positioning systems (GPS), and ploughs with laser receivers to contour fields for improved water runoff and drainage.
Water and soil management programs such as this are just one of the many practices farmers must employ to maintain their crop yields, remain economically viable, and provide us with a secure, local food supply.
How does it benefit wildlife?
Soil conservation practices preserve the productivity and viability of farmland, which is one of the few habitats for wildlife on the edges of urban areas. Laser leveling allows fields to dry out earlier, which gives farmers earlier access for planting and makes it more likely that a winter cover crop can be planted to feed migratory birds.
How does it benefit farmers?
Laser leveling can precisely contour the topography of agricultural fields, grading them for better surface water runoff and drainage, and reducing soil erosion. Leveling also removes low spots where water tends to pool.
Standing water causes the soil to compact, making it more difficult to plough and till, and for plant roots to penetrate the soil or access oxygen. When standing water evaporates, it can draw salts from deep in the soil to the surface, resulting in poor growing conditions. Eventually, standing water can result in crop failure, especially in over-wintering crops like perennial forage and cover crops.
Standing water can also attract waterfowl that may further damage grass crops by grazing them to the ground.
When pooling is eliminated and drainage is improved, fields dry out earlier in the spring and are more likely to be workable in the fall. The earlier start to the planting season gives farmers time to plant a cover crop, once their cash crop is harvested, that will protect and replenish their soil over winter.
How do DFWT and farmers work together to deliver the program?
DFTW’s Laser Leveling Program shares the cost with farmers of leveling the soil on fields.