After the hydraulic unloading and placement of over 400,000 cubic yards of dredged materials from the Earle, Cheatham and Yorktown projects (see related Previous Projects page), the drying materials were prepared for farming by ditching, grading, fertilizing and establishment of vegetative cover crops.
2013-2015 saw successful winter wheat and soybean crops raised in cells in the basin with winter wheat yields in 2013 over 77 bushels per acre (bu/ac) while the productive native farmland adjacent to the basin only saw 68 bu/ac. Soybean yields have slowly risen over time to 44.5 bu/ac in 2014 which is above the national and county averages.
Crops in 2015 suffered from excessive rains which stalled harvest and planting on the flat surfaces of the basins. 2015 winter wheat yielded 57 bu/ac while soybeans were 29 bu/ac due to harsh weather and flooding. Saline sediments, such as the Earle project’s, have shown great potential for crop yields in years with favorable weather and have matched or exceeded yields for local native farm soils under the right conditions and management practices.
Overall, there is nothing in the 2015 crop results that alters the view that these saline sediments will eventually out-produce lower quality local farm soils and reclaimed mined lands, and provide an opportunity to increase overall crop productivity on many areas. As the cells fill, sediment develops into productive farm soils, and agricultural management techniques improve, the full potential of these sediments will be realized.