Some areas of Canada, like us here in Manitoba, have experienced increased flooding this year due to late snowstorms, intense periods of rain, and warmer temperatures quickly melting the existing snow. Understandably, you might be concerned about the impact of flooding on the stability of your soil’s microbial health. Will these extreme conditions negatively affect your crops’ yields? In this week’s edition of Growing Possibilities, we will discuss the effects of flooding and stagnant water on the soil microbial population.
To begin, let’s highlight the importance of soil microflora for promoting plant growth and health. The soil contains a diverse population of bacteria, fungi, and algae that directly facilitate nutrient delivery and uptake to the plant. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial to both microorganism and plant, and ultimately enhances plant growth, health and yield (1).
Flooding and stagnant water depletes oxygen in the soil and creates an anaerobic environment (2). This lack of oxygen is detrimental to the aerobic microorganisms in the soil, as they require air to survive and perform their functions. A significant decrease in the soil microflora will have an effect on various nutrient cycles, such as the all-important nitrogen (N) cycle. With less N-fixing rhizobacteria in the soil, and less oxygen available to the plant, crop health and growth may be affected considerably.
Excessive water may also wash away precious nutrients in the soil and alter the soil pH; on top of losing nutrients available to the plant and microflora, flooding often results in more acidic soil (3). In tandem with acidic soil, destabilization of the soil particles can occur. Loss of soil aggregation will decrease the soil quality, and as a result, crop quality also suffers (4).
In a nutshell, flooding and stagnant waters will have a negative impact on your soil and would affect your crops in the long term, as soil health and microbial content are vital to raising good crops and harvesting great yields. You may want to consider applying biologicals and inoculants when planting your seeds, as these may help protect the desired crop yield, especially in the legume crops. Inoculants such as XiteBio® SoyRhizo® and XiteBio® PulseRhizo® can reintroduce the beneficial N-fixing rhizobacteria in the soil post-flooding and rejuvenate your crops.
For more specific information on crop inoculant products and how they may help your specific crops please visit www.xitebio.ca.