Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNotes From KathyDrought is Coming For You

Drought is Coming For You

I’m a bit worried about what this grazing season has in store for many of us.

Let’s just start right off by looking at the Vegetation Drought Response Index for the United States as of April 25. This map combines current satellite data and information about soils, land cover, land use and ecological settings that can influence plant growth. It shows us plant stress levels – or how vegetation is responding to conditions on the ground.

White represents near normal conditions and green shows unusually moist areas. As you can see, this map doesn’t have a lot of either of those. All that yellow, orange and red indicates where vegetation is stressed from having experienced some level of drought the year before. It is not as resilient, or as productive as it normally is.

It makes sense that vegetation is stressed when you see the maps in John Marble’s drought outlook article this week showing what was predicted last year, and what this year looks like as a result. At least half of the country is experiencing some level of drought.

It’s important to take a close look at this information because, as Dallas Mount points out, hope springs eternal, sometimes leading us to making poor grazing management decisions.

Yes, there could be some rain, but in many places it won’t be enough to make up for about a year of drought. That’s a hard truth that Bill Fosher covers in his May 1st video on soil moisture on his farm in New Hampshire and the lack of recovery after three days of rain.

So, here’s my public service announcement:

You can’t feed your way through a drought and still make money. Let’s use this information to be prepared. Check out the tips Dallas and John provide that have helped them and others be successful.

A Drought Plan is something every grazier should have. This On Pasture ebook can get you started.

If you’d like more, download the “Drought Planning 101” ebook. It’s free for paid subscribers and has the steps you need to create a drought plan, and, if drought hasn’t hit yet, to prepare your water and forage resources to make it through challenges like this.

You can do this! It just takes a little forethought.

Thanks for reading!


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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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