Mehari Tekeste, left, and Mark Hanna at the experimental site. | Photo: Iowa State University
A team of researchers at Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will conduct a five-year study that will examine the impact of pipeline construction on crop production and soil compaction. The project, which is funded by Dakota Access Pipeline LLC, will collect data through 2021 on section of university-owned farmland traversed by the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The overall goal of the project is to quantify the impact of construction utilities equipment, field traffic and deep tillage on crop yield and soil compaction,” according to a university news release.
Mehari Tekeste, an assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Mark Hanna, an extension agricultural engineer, will lead the multiyear project.
“We hope our research will develop data to support future recommendations on the restoration of agricultural soil and crop productivity to pre-construction conditions,” Tekeste said. “This will be of benefit to industry and governmental institutions, as well as other researchers and extension specialists.
Dakota Access has long been committed to minimizing potential impacts from pipeline installation and continues to work with landowners across Iowa to ensure land is restored to preconstruction conditions. Specifically, these efforts included the development of a comprehensive Agricultural Mitigation Plan and the enlistment of two independent contractors to advise and monitor the acquisition, construction and reclamation processes.
In a new editorial, Agweek Magazine, a leading agricultural publication in the upper Midwest, captured many of the frustrations shared by farmers and ranchers affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The thoughtful commentary is careful not to dismiss those who have peacefully opposed the project, but notes that many actions have been anything but peaceful.
We understand many Americans disapprove of the project. We support their legal and moral right to oppose it through peaceful, legal protest. We live, thank goodness, in a free country. But many of the protests were neither peaceful nor legal.
The editorial goes on to highlight that farmers and ranchers in Morton County have been on the frontlines of the unlawful activity and have suffered financially as a result.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture say 544 Morton County households were affected by the protests. They say farmers and ranchers lost as much as $20,000 each due to delays in or inability to harvest crops, inability to haul to market, inability to get custom harvesters to the area, lost or missing livestock, cattle brought off pasture earlier than usual, vandalized equipment and farmsteads and other issues. There also are continuing problems with possible pest-infested firewood, as well as hundreds of loads of garbage left behind when the camp was cleared out.
Out-of-state protesters who descended on this rural community often did so with a complete lack of respect for area residents who wanted nothing but to continue about their normal lives.
This much is clear: Protestors, even sincere ones, often went too far, hurting “ordinary” North Dakotans who had done absolutely nothing wrong. That alienated and angered many people who had been neutral or lukewarm on the project.
In closing, the editorial board said environmental protesters would be wise to respect agriculturalists in the future before offering an optimistic outlook for the coming change of season.