OSU study looks into impact pipeline installation has on crop yields

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Rover pipeline
The Rover Pipeline Project, passing through Wayne County.

Preliminary results of an Ohio State University study show that pipeline installation on farmland negatively impacts crop yields.

Researchers with the Ohio State University Extension Agronomics Crops Team collected soil and yield samples from 24 farms in seven counties that were impacted by natural gas pipeline installation in the last few years. They sampled the right-of-way over the pipeline and an adjacent, undisturbed area of the same field. Pipeline easements are typically 50 feet wide.

They found corn grain yields decreased by an average of 23.8% in the pipeline installation area when compared with yields in the undisturbed area. Silage corn decreased an average of 28.8%; and soybean yield decreased an average of 7.4%. 

Soils within the right-of-way also had more rock fragments, lower soil moisture and a higher resistance to penetration, which indicates some amount of soil compaction. The results were similar to previous studies done on pipeline installation and crop yields.

The farms were in Tuscarawas, Stark, Wayne, Medina, Lorain, Ashland and Wood counties. The Rover, Utopia and Nexus pipelines were targeted because they were each installed within the last three to four years.

The team is collecting data again in the fall and looking for yield maps from other fields in Ohio where the Rover, Utopia or Nexus pipelines were installed. If you are interested in learning more about the project or participating in it, contact Theresa Brehm at brehm.112@osu.edu or 614-706-2037; or Steve Culman at culman.2@osu.edu or 330-263-3787.

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