Agronomist with Iowa State Says Farmers in Storms' Path Should Assess Their Property Carefully

Remove storm-damaged debris from fields and pastures with caution

May 24, 2024, 2:30 pm | Mike Witt, Chris Kick

(Updated May 24 following additional storms and tornadoes that left debris spread across farm fields. Originally published May 2, 2024.)

AMES, Iowa – Iowans who are cleaning up from the recent bout of storms can find useful resources offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Deadly storms with multiple tornadoes were reported in April, and again in late May, causing houses and buildings to be destroyed, with debris spread across streets and into farm fields.

Iowa storm damage from late May.Mike Witt, a field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach in west central Iowa, said the damage was severe but not necessarily widespread.

“From what I’ve observed, there are places that were damaged and many other places that were untouched,” he said. “No matter the situation, I encourage people to assess their property and take note of any debris or damage.”

Witt said storm debris can easily be hiding along fence lines or in grass waterways. He encourages landowners to inspect their property now, before the spring growing season causes further disguise of debris.

“Right now, it’s easy to see debris because the crops are not as tall,” he said. “I recommend checking your fields and buildings now, while the storm is still on your mind.”

Witt also suggests landowners use good sense when deciding how much cleanup they can do on their own. First, they need to assess the severity of the damage and whether to contact their insurance agent.

If the landowner feels confident, they can proceed with cleanup. However, Witt reminds everyone that storm debris is often sharp and jagged and can be heavier than people anticipate. If debris is in the fields, he reminds landowners to be careful when driving across soft, rain-soaked ground.

ISU Extension and Outreach has multiple online resources available to help answer questions about storm-related recovery. Road closure sign.

The Disaster and Crisis Recovery site offers expert insight into topics such as drought management, derechos, tree and forest management and much more. These resources are offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, and are intended to reduce the personal impact of disasters, by working in partnership with the local, state and federal agencies addressing the need.

There also is valuable information on “Assessing Grain Bin Damage,” as well as ISU Extension and Outreach’s Iowa Concern hotline, 800-447-1985, with 24/7 access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics.

Witt said spring planting is off to a good start for west central farmers, but recent rains have caused a delay for now. The U.S. Drought Monitor has shown some soil moisture improvement for Iowa, with additional rain events in the near-term forecast.

Shareable photos: 1. Storm damage in central Iowa, with debris strewn along a fenceline. 2. A road closed due to downed powerlines near Nevada, Iowa.

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