NDSU study published examining the agricultural impacts from the FM Area Diversion Project

Two agricultural economic reports were recently published and presented to the Diversion Board of Authority by researchers at North Dakota State University.

The studies focused on the risk posed to agriculture by the Project. Research evaluated the timing of flood events in relation to spring planting dates, and assessed the number of days for flood effects to be gone, if the Project will result in planting delays. The studies were completed in March 2020 and presented to the Authority’s Land Management Committee in March and April.

See both of the reports, slides and presentations

The study’s key findings included

  • Most spring flood events occur before spring planting begins. As such, most of the agricultural acreage within the upstream mitigation area is not adversely affected by the Project during a flood (as compared to spring flood events without the Project).
  • The most common crop commonly planted in the region is soybeans. Soybeans are typically planted later in the spring and are therefore less sensitive to planting delays caused by flooding.
  • If the Project operates, most of the adversely affected agricultural acreage will have a planting delay of one to five days.
  • A long or late flood event will pose an increased risk of planting delays.
  • The risk that the Project will cause wide-scale prevent plant conditions is very low.
  • While most areas will not have significant effects from the Project, select fields may have substantial impacts.
  • Conditions after the floodwaters recede that allow for the land to dry-down have an important impact on agricultural operations.

The research team examined 241 storage areas totally more than 54,000 acres upstream of the southern embankment. The studies evaluated existing and with-Project conditions associated with 10 different flood events ranging from more-frequent 10-year floods to infrequent 100- and 500-year flood events. Lands within the 241 storage areas were divided into five different classifications for each flood event. The five classifications assisted researchers in evaluating impacts on lands. This research will be utilized by the Diversion Authority to determine compensation for impacts from the Project

The studies also found that during a 25-year flood or larger, with the FM Area Diversion Project in place there is a high probability of modest revenue losses, generally less than $25 per acre, but a low probability of greater revenue losses due to planting delays.

“We know the Project will impact agricultural operations, and there are many different variables within an agricultural operation and economy, but I’m pleased to have additional research and data for us to evaluate that impact,” Executive Director Joel Paulsen said. “These evaluations are important as we work to have a finalized mitigation plan that will serve as our blueprint for individuals, businesses, and landowners in the Upstream Mitigation Area.”

The complete studies, presentations given to the Land Management Committee, and videos of those meetings are available below.

For more information about these studies, contact Eric Dodds.