In light of the recent flash flood damage that occurred in on the 9th of November in Johannesburg and the surrounding area, farmers may be worried about whether their livelihoods are in for more destruction. While floods can ravage crops and grazing lands and damage control after such events can be quite expensive, remedying your fertile soil is a necessary action.

If you’ve encountered flash floods on your property before, you may know that refilling eroded areas on your property can become a complicated process when flood damage is left unattended. The tricky thing is that flood damage, though it may seem insignificant, can severely compromise the integrity of your soil structure when it becomes subjected to flood debris damage and erosion. Addressing landscape damage during flash floods as soon as possible can stop it from growing into a situation that may cause you to lose out on cultivatable land. Here’s how you can ameliorate the situation:

  • Confirm whether or not there are underlying electronic utilities that floods may have uncovered before attempting to use heavy machinery in the area. If you are aware of any municipal pipelines or electronics running through your property, double check their location a few days before attempting to intervene.
  • Remove any debris that has made its way onto your crops or grazing fields. Although this is a lengthy process, removing debris that has accumulated on your property, especially in areas that you intend to cultivate as grazing fields or crops, is extremely important. When debris is ignored (especially when additional rain and/or floods can be expected) they often disappear from the surface, becoming a hazard to your crop machinery and livestock.

Categorising materials before attempting to remove them is a good idea when dealing with large-scale flood damage. This can be done by taking aerial photos to identify hazards like petrol tanks and garbage and mapping out where debris has clumped together. Seal organic material into the land, where possible, and make sure to spread it out as evenly as possible. Consider burning surplus organic material, if you’re left with no alternative and it is safe to do so.

  • Dealing with aggregate sediment, like river sand, left by floods are often the primary expenses most farmers face in rainy seasons. Flash floods often leave large amounts of sand behind that can have a damaging impact on your precious fertile topsoil. Depending on how dramatic the level of sediment is, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll reincorporate the sand into your fertile soil, or remove it entirely. For layers smaller than 20cm, you can try to distribute the soil evenly. For larger layers, you may want to consider hiring professionals to recover your valuable underlying soil.