Development of the Drought Calculator (DC) has been a collaborative process involving USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins, Colorado, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center. Funding was provided by the USDA-Risk Management Agency.
The DC was developed to help ranchers and other rangeland managers assess the impacts of drought on forage production, enabling them to make better informed decisions as to alternative drought strategies. It was developed to assess the impacts of drought on healthy rangeland. That is, rangeland which has high species diversity, vigorously growing plants with deep root systems, minimal bare ground, and adequate plant litter cover to moderate soil surface temperatures. It is not designed to be used as a standalone decision making tool, but rather to supplement and enhance the ranchers or managers own experiences and knowledge related to the impacts of drought on forage production on their operation.
Formally known as the Drought Management Calculator this current, updated version is written using VisualBasic.NET programming language so it should download and run on any computer using a Windows based operating system. Internet connection is desirable as the program automatically links with selected weather stations, downloads current and historical precipitation data, and calculates a long term precipitation average for that location. The user may also establish a long term average tailored to their location by entering at least five years of precipitation data collected from their location. All information remains on the users computer and can be saved for future use and reference in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format (Microsoft Excel is required for proper operation).
The following documents require Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Excel.
Drought Calculator Background and Theory (PDF; 829 KB)
North Dakota Contact
Mark A. Hayek
Rangeland Management Specialist