A little bit of corn could go a long way to make roads in Lambton County safer this winter.
Rob Steiginga, operations manager of Lambton County’s roads department, has been working on a pilot project to provide natural barriers in rural areas where roads become slick in the wind and snow by using a readily available item – corn.
Steiginga says two farmers, one on Mandaumin Road near Confederation and another on Nauvoo Road near Alvinston, have left 12 rows of corn unharvested about 100 feet from the road. Producers are paid for leaving the corn up based on the price of corn and their yield per acre.
“The corn that’s left standing is basically a snow fence,” says Steiginga. “It cuts the wind cuts the drifting.”
It’s the third year the county has tried the natural barriers and Steiginga says the road crews are really noticing a difference, especially on Mandaumin Road.
“Normally when the wind blows it churns the snow across the road, salt makes the road wet, wind picks up and creates ice. The natural barrier reduces the wind, then the salt will melt and then the snow won’t stay on the road.”
Steiginga says road crews who may have traveled over the stretch of road for salting three times a day now only go once. “In the long run…our plows won’t have to go over there as often and that will save some money.”
And he says it also saves the county from putting up snow fences in those areas to improve the roads.
Steiginga says the pilot has been so successful he wants to expand it. “Right now we have two producers that are cooperative and I’d like to continue it with them next year. There are a few others that I will approach to see if their interested in participating with this,” he says.
“If people are interested please give me a shout,” he added.