We want to share important and timely information to help every farmer understand how to survive and thrive during a drought. And let’s face it --- massive, long-term droughts are happening all over the world and appear to be here to stay.
Let’s dive into the details.
Droughts Are Deadly
Coping with the effects of dry weather or a drought on your crops and/or livestock can be tough.
Unfortunately, whether we like it or not --- severe droughts have become a reality for farmers, livestock owners, and gardeners all over the world.
We are going to share some highly effective tips and strategies for surviving and thriving during a drought. Various ways you can protect your livestock and crops.
And of course, do not forget to take care of yourself. Talk about any feelings of anger, frustration, and the related stress --- rather than isolating from family or neighbors. These support tools are invaluable during hard and tough times. We are all in this together.
Let’s go deeper…
General Drought Preparedness and Response Tips:
Examine your water use efficiency and irrigation needs. Look carefully at irrigation systems as a long-term investment.
Keep up-to-date forage inventories. Your local feed representative or agricultural agent can help.
Consider alternative on-farm related businesses. Diversification can be a good long-term approach to revenue shortfalls from drought. Things like alternative crops, alternative livestock, non-production farm-related ventures such as camping, fee hunting/shooting preserves, farm vacations, bed and breakfast establishments, summer camps on the farm, herd sitting, farm markets or home-based enterprises.
If you’re hit hard by a drought:
Protect livestock from heat. Call a veterinarian if heat stress is a concern.
Cull unprofitable cattle.
Discuss financial and feed assistance in the early phase of a drought.
Adjust fertilizer rates based on any lower yield expectancy.
Compiled below are tips to help you prepare and manage with drought and dry weather. Your local university cooperative extension office can also offer guidance.
Water Saving Tips From the Pros
We want to share some water conservation techniques for your garden.
Here they are:
Utilize correct watering techniques. Water early in the day to reduce evaporation loss. Water less frequently, but for longer lengths of time, to encourage deep root growth. Check hoses for leaks before watering plants. Position sprinklers so they water only plants — not the road or house.
Collect compost for mulching. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic waste to create a compost pile. Compost is a rich soil amendment that can help increase water retention, decrease erosion, and replace chemical fertilizers.
Shelter container plants to conserve water. Move containers to areas with partial shade to keep them from drying quickly in hot windy areas.
Discourage competition. Eliminate weeds to discourage competition for water. Consider a landscape fabric between the soil and your mulch to further reduce weeds.
Use barrels to collect rainwater. Use the rainwater to water your plants.
Condition the soil. Adding organic matter to clay and sandy soils will increase the penetrability of clay soils and the water-holding capacity of sandy soils.
Mulch the soil surface. This cuts down on the water loss due to evaporation. A two-inch layer of mulch or compost is recommended. Apply mulches to shrubs, trees, annuals, vegetable gardens, and even containers.
Install a drip or other water-conserving irrigation system. An irrigation system can save up to 60 percent of all water used in garden care.
Now let’s discuss some tips and strategies for protecting and managing livestock.
Here are 10 ways to protect your animals from the brutal heat:
Maintain access to water. Provide automatic drinking apparatus.
Keep the water containers clean.
Adjust the drinking space for the size and the number of animals in the pen or group.
Check the water delivery systems periodically for plugs or other problems.
Spray water on animals to cool them.
Keep an eye on the animals and monitor their body temperature.
Your county agricultural agent, ventilation specialists, or your veterinarian can offer expert advice.
If animals are kept outside --- provide shade during hot weather.
Swine may sunburn during hot, sunny weather. Sunshades can cut the radiant heat load and pasture wallows are also effective for sunburn protection.
Turn cows outside at night to cool them and cool the barn.
As far as water requirements --- double the normal intake for animals during hot weather.
Clean, freshwater is important. Your extension office or veterinarian can offer accurate watering estimates.
Let’s move on.
Feed Requirements Farmers unable to afford additional feed may face an emergency.
Here are some considerations:
Develop an inventory of livestock numbers and feed supplies to plan for current and long-term feed needs.
Buy or obtain additional feed. Feed assistance may be available from relief groups, the ASCS or through loans.
Sell off non-essential animals. The money received can help buy additional feed for the remaining animals.
Plant alternative crops for forage.
Have no fear if you still need assistance.
There are several options including:
Farm Credit Services
Local county extension office
Drought Assistance for Farmers
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and manages farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, and loan programs.
Hopefully, this brief article has helped you better understand how to survive and thrive during a drought.
If you need any further help or have any questions about farming during a drought, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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