Tips For A Drought-Ready Grazing Playbook

Editors' Note: Julie Elliott lives in northeast Colorado so she's got a lot of experience managing for drought. In the first article in this series, she gave us the tools to look at our pastures to see what we have and how drought has impacted them. In this article she gives us some tips for prepping for drought before it happens so that we can make it through successfully. Like a good football team, graziers need a playbook that has been well thought out long before they hit the field. Think of it as a football playbook. It has scenarios using different combinations of quarters, position on the field and score to make play decisions. The quarterback has assembled a great deal of knowledge. The playbook and knowledge gives him the ability to adapt in the “heat of the moment” and get the play going before the play clock runs out. Your playbook starts with the questions that every grazing decision will be weighed against: If I do X will it help me to: a) increase the number of new plants, b) leave plants tall enough to capture snow and slow down wind speeds at the ground, c) increase the amount of litter cover and d) decrease bare ground? A well designed playbook helps us objectively think about the past and current weather and pasture conditions so we can make grazing decisions. Perhaps we can start with the the take half leave half approach? Unfortunately, there is an inherent problem with this philosophy. It deceives a person into believing that there is always

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