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Farmers mitigate impacts of drought

                                                                         News Feature                                                           4/2/2013

Farmers mitigate impacts of drought

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is helping to mitigate impacts of drought across the nation. With good drought strategy and conservation systems, farmers are better equipped to manage dry and other extreme weather.

“Without a strategy in place, you’re left crossing your fingers for rain. Farmers may suffer some loss, but their loss is greatly minimized,” NRCS State Agronomist Carissa Spencer said.

Grazing SheepBefore extreme weather occurs – be it drought, flood, hot, cold – farmers should consider what they could be doing to buffer or mitigate the effects, she added.

The NRCS hydrologists are predicting continued drought for the western part of the nation and other states may also be facing dry conditions. However, even if your area is not affected by drought, it is still important to have a plan.

“Last year most Minnesota pastures were stressed by drought which will decrease pasture yields this year. Developing a drought plan that accounts for expected feed production and balancing it with feed needed by livestock can help producers understand how potential additional drought stress will affect their operations.” NRCS State Grazing Specialist John Zinn said.



Below are few drought tips from NRCS:

1. Minimize tillage as much as possible – no tillage is best
2. Keep soil covered
3. Consider killing cover crops off a couple weeks before planting
4. For crops that take supplemental nitrogen – scale back nitrogen to expected yield
5. If rain isn’t expected, inject fertilizer so it comes into contact with more soil moisture

Grazing and Hayland:
1. Create a drought plan that accounts for the feed needs of your livestock and anticipated forage production
2. Manage forage to preserve enough standing crop to protect the stand
3. Consider using alternative feeds and forages
4. Consider adding additional sources of water in the event existing sources are affected
5. Consider which animals are essential in your herd or flock and which should be relocated or sold
“NRCS area grazing specialists are available to assist you plan for drought,” Zinn said.

When creating a drought strategy, you should consider the kinds and conditions of all your resources, and consider how crops, forage and other resources have reacted to drought in the past.

“Planning for extreme weather is essential for farmers and NRCS is here to help. We provide the technical and financial assistance to develop healthy soils which mitigate extreme weather effects,” Spencer said.

NRCS provides information on land, water and crop management options: (  for drought strategy. New drought information is provided each Monday at

Read here for more drought information:

MN NRCS website:

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