On a recent trip to California, I had the pleasure meeting several farm families who are impacted by the state’s worsening drought. Both stops gave me a first-hand view of the challenges these farmers face. We discussed how USDA can further help them with available resources. While the discussion centered on concerns over water supply, I was heartened to see that the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) recommended conservation practices have helped them better prepare for the state’s historic water shortage. Read more.
Native warm-season grasses fair well during drought, and livestock and forage producers are turning to them for these benefits, NRCS scientists say. Many landowners are converting a portion of their land to these grasses and other native plants, taking advantage of their benefits, including tolerance to drought, food for livestock, habitat for wildlife and other ecosystem services.
A native plant is one that has grown in an area since before human settlement and was not brought in more recently from other parts of the world. Natives, when planted in the right place, grow stronger and yield more benefits than non-natives. Read more.
With assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, farmers and ranchers across the nation are using cover crops to protect soil – their most valuable asset, especially with many facing drought conditions again this year.
“Producers are beginning to see great value in cover crops,” Eric McTaggart NRCS district conservationist for Livingston County, Ill., said. Read more.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing in the University of Missouri’s inventive ideas on ways to build drought resiliency through improved soil health.
The project is one of 13 drought adaptation ideas selected this year to receive a Conservation Innovation Grant from NRCS. The goal is to increase farmers’ understanding of the effects of management practices on soil health, water capacity and infiltration, and the project’s lead researcher Tim Reinbott, said he couldn’t be more excited about it. Read more.