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US Midwest soil drought recovery could take two years

The U.S. Midwest, which went through a severe drought in the summer of 2012 and has been in a state of drought since 2010, may take at least two years to recover from the damage, according to University of Missouri researchers. Soil in the Midwest is dry down to as deep as 5 feet, where the roots of the crops absorb moisture and nutrients, according to Randall Miles, associate professor of soil science at the MU School of Natural Resources.

The U.S. Midwest, which went through a severe drought in the summer of 2012 and has been in a state of drought since 2010, may take at least two years to recover from the damage, according to University of Missouri researchers.

Soil in the Midwest is dry down to as deep as 5 feet, where the roots of the crops absorb moisture and nutrients, according to Randall Miles, associate professor of soil science at the MU School of Natural Resources. â€śI wouldn’t count on a full recovery of soil moisture any time soon,” said Miles. “Even if parts of the Midwest receive a lot of snowfall and rain this spring, it will take time for the moisture to move deeply into the soil where the driest conditions exist.” Some roots, he said, had to go down to 8 feet in 2012 to extract water.

To recharge completely, a fully depleted soil would require about 16 inches of water over normal precipitation amounts. â€śIn order for the soil moisture to return to a normal state this year, the rain and snow would almost have to come continuously,” said Miles. “The weather would almost have to be like the precipitation found in London, coming down light and slowly to minimize runoff.”

It could be two to three years before farmers can expect bumper crops again, according to Miles.

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