Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
February 18, 1999

Water: When is an Inch More than an Inch

This time of year the effects of water seem to show up in numerous places. Water is a substance that we cannot survive without. However, there are instances when a little less would be quite beneficial.

Large bales of hay are stored outside and exposed to various weather conditions. There are numerous techniques that affect the rate of deterioration of forages while it is being stored under these circumstances. Bale density, twine spacing, plastic wrap, and net wrap are only a few. Under each of these circumstances moisture has a detrimental effect to some degree.

Much of the hay today is stored outside for six months or longer. There are numerous places where we can obtain the amount of moisture on an accumulated basis. For many of us the amount of water expressed in inches has little relationship to the amount. The following calculation shows the amount of water in gallons that a five foot by five foot bale of hay is exposed to. Ten inches of rainfall calculates to 155.8 gallons of water on this five by five bale.

It is not uncommon to receive twenty or thirty inches of rainfall throughout the storage period. This would calculate to 311.7 gallons and 467.5 gallons respectively.

Another area of moisture accumulation that has a pronounced effect on agriculture is often provided to us in a term referred to as an acre inch. These calculations when transferred to gallons add up to a considerable amount of water. An acre contains 43,560 square feet. Calculating the square root of 43,560 we find that one acre is 208.7 feet squared. Many lawns or yards contain this amount or more of land. However lawns and yards have the ability to absorb moisture. Using this same calculations for parking lots which contain several acres and do not have the ability to absorb moisture we find that for each inch of rainfall we get 27,154 gallons of water. Many parking lots around shopping centers contain several acres. For each area of concrete or asphalt 208.7 feet by 208.7 feet that receives two inches of rainfall we get 54,308.5 gallons of water that flows freely into the storm sewers which in turn pours into the streams and rivers that flow through the agriculture sector of land. Through this water accumulation and flow mechanism we continually add to the wet lands by making very little if any effort.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - February 18, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT021899.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004