‘Get their hands on a little more hay’: Area farmers mowing city drainage properties

KELOLAND.com Original

An area producer rakes grass near a city drainage pond at 41 St. and Southeastern Ave. in Sioux Falls.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s more than 300 storm drain properties in the city of Sioux Falls. 

Around some of those city-owned detention ponds and drainage channels are uplands full of thick grass, much like many roadside ditches across the state. While the city still mows and maintains many of the drainage channels and ponds, some of the bigger areas are helping area farmers. 

“The producers around here that we deal with will take any opportunity to get their hands on a little more hay,” City engineer Andy Berg told KELOLAND News. “It’s a commodity, especially in drought years that is hard to come by.” 

This week, Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order to declare a statewide state of emergency for drought conditions, allowing ditch mowing in eastern South Dakota.

According to KELOLAND Meteorologist Scot Mundt, June 2021 is in the top three for hottest high temperatures for Sioux Falls as well as Aberdeen and Pierre. Until the final week, Sioux Falls saw less than a half-inch of rain compared to an average June of 4.25 inches of rainfall. 

For some of the properties, like the large detention pond at 41st St. and Southeastern Ave., the city stopped mowing about a decade ago except for a 12-foot buffer. On Thursday, a local producer was raking up the long cut grass into piles to be baled. 

“This is a great example of where we can utilize local producers’ ability to do some haying because of the amount of uplands we have in this area,” Berg said. 

In exchange for weed control of the property, the city allows area producers to hay the ground. 

“The ones that have enough uplands, it’s a great program to cost-share some of that spraying expense we have and also provide a product those producers can use for their operations,” Berg said.  

For many Sioux Falls homeowners, the process gives them an up-close look at a typical farming operation.

You can view a video of baling the grass from 2017 above. 

“We just ask that (property owners) are accepting of the fact that there will be some farm equipment a couple times a year,” Berg said. “It’s a minor impact and for the savings we can potentially see to the taxpayers for less time for our crews to be out maintaining these areas.”

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