Managing drought risk on the ranch: Webinar series

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – The winter months have brought little relief to the devastating drought in the state of South Dakota. Ranchers are faced with another challenging year. In an effort to make preparations for the possibility of continued drought in 2013, SDSU Extension is working to provide cattle producers with needed tools to cope with the issues associated with the drought, says Kalyn Waters, SDSU Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

“Management and preparedness is what it will take to make it through another year if the drought continues,” Waters said.

It is the goal of Waters and other SDSU Extension Livestock staff to help producers be as prepared as possible to make critical management decisions if the drought continues to progress through 2013. As part of their plan to help South Dakota livestock producers, SDSU Extension has partnered with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension to host a five-part Webinar series with the focus of helping ranchers across the state prepare for the possibility of the drought continuing in 2013. This series of meetings is titled “Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch.”

“UNL Extension and the Drought Mitigation Center have done an outstanding job putting together this program. They have slated some of the best speakers available to provide critical information to producers. Attending these meetings will provide ranchers with the tools they need to set critical trigger dates, and begin to develop a long term management plan,” Waters said.

She adds that these meetings are also intended to educate professionals and consultants who work with ranchers as a professional development series.

The Webinars will be presented the last Wednesday of each month beginning Jan. 30 and concluding in May. One hour webinars will begin at 9 a.m. MST or 10 a.m. CST at the SDSU Extension Regional Centers. Each session will include current drought updates, forecasts and presentations about specific information or tools.

Following each Webinar, the regional centers will join together via video conference for a question and answer session where SDSU Extension State and Field Specialists will provide additional information relevant to South Dakota producers.

Topics each month will consider drought planning information and tools available to producers. In addition to university and Extension presenters, a number of ranchers will also be featured. These ranchers will describe the development and execution of their drought management plans.

The topic of the Jan. 30 Webinar is Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch: The Planning Process. The keynote speaker of the meeting will be Jerry Volesky, UNL Range and Forage Specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center. “Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch is a program that has been put together by range professionals and ranchers with instruction for developing individualized plans that includes ways ranchers can better prepare for and respond to drought. The first webinar will provide an overview of the different steps in putting together that drought plan,” said Voleksy.

Scheduled dates and topics for the series include:

Jan. 30: Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch: The Planning Process.

Feb. 27: Avoiding Analysis Paralysis: Monitoring and Setting Critical Dates for Decision Making During Drought

March 27: The New Cumulative Forage Reduction (CFR) Index: Assessing Drought Impacts and Planning a Grazing Strategy

April 24: Using a Drought Calculator to Assist Stocking Decisions

May 29: Economic Factors to Weigh in Making Decisions during Drought

These meetings are sponsored by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The series was developed with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA).

For more information, visit or contact the local SDSU Extension Regional Center, or call Waters at the SDSU Extension Regional Center in Winner at 605-842-1267.