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Ohio farmers now soaked and facing uncertain future

Research in NE Ohio looking at crop resiliency
Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 19:15:37-04

Soaked and worried about survival — farmers across our state are facing an uncertain future as the rain continues to fall. Local researchers are working to help farmers in this storm, and the storms to come.

Right now, researchers in Northeast Ohio are looking at ways to help farmers and their crops weather the endless string of storms.

The fields at Case Western Reserve's University Farm are soaked like so many others across the Buckeye State.

"The water has nowhere to go, so it just sits here," said Emily Pek, a farm associate at University Farm.

The steady stream of rain is preventing a large percentage of Ohio farmers from planting.

"If one of us is suffering we're kind of all suffering," Pek said. "If you're not getting your crops in early enough or at the right time even, it's too late."

Those lucky enough to already have crops in the ground are facing an increased risk of rot and disease.

"Water and humidity really foster those," said Pek.

Pek is warning consumers about the fallout from the rainfall.

"Everybody's lives are going to be affected by this in some way," Pek said. "There will be things that you won't be able to buy this year locally. You're seeing flooding in a lot of places, so it's going to affect food that we import as well."

What you can find, because of the scarcity, is expected to cost more.

"This is a reality that we're living in right now with climate change," said Pek.

Pek said the way people farm needs to change. With the current weather patterns, the old way of doing things is not sustainable moving forward.

Researchers at Case are using the farm to come up with ways to mitigate the impact of extreme weather conditions on farming.

Some of the techniques tested so far include cover crops to prevent erosion during rain storms.

"When you have a diversity of plants and plants that do well here they'll continuously help to take in that rainwater," said Pek.

Pek said farmers can also add resiliency by avoiding the use of large machinery in their fields and use fungi in them to help capture carbon monoxide.

"How we're going at this rate is not sustainable," said Pek.