Managing drought risk on the ranch: Next webinar offered April 24

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – While this past week’s snow has brought much needed moisture across the state of South Dakota, the presence of the drought has not disappeared.

“Recent rain and snowfall across the state has brought some tangible relief to the ongoing drought conditions,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. “Despite this beneficial storm event, the long-term drought lingers and is still a concern. Short term relief in some pastures and top soil moisture across southern SD will certainly help launch the growing season off to a good start. But continued precipitation will be needed this year to maintain decent moisture for crops and rangeland production, since there are such large carryover deficits from last year.”

Cow/calf producers, land owners and ranchers must still evaluate the condition of their pasture and range land and determine the stocking rate which their land can sustain, says Kalyn Waters, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

“There is no question that grass is in short supply. Producers are working to nail down summer grazing and evaluating the condition of their range to determine the stocking rate their ranch can support,” Waters said. “And, this year will be much different because of the lingering effects of drought, this makes it pivotal for producers to use tools such as the Drought Calculator to assist in making stocking rate decisions.”

5-part webinar series

In an effort to be proactive and help producers understand those tools that are available, the Livestock staff at SDSU Extension have partnered with University of Nebraska-Lincoln 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”.

All sessions 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, with SDSU Extension State and Field Specialists presenting additional information relevant to South Dakota producers.

April 24 Webinar features Stan Boltz

During the April 24 webinar, Stan Boltz, South Dakota NRCS State Range Management Specialist and Jeff Printz, North Dakota NRCS Range Management Specialist will be speaking on the Drought Calculator and how it can be used to assist in stocking rate decisions. Attendees can ask questions directly of Boltz and Printz. In addition, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist Laura Edwards will give an update on the weather and drought status.

“UNL Extension and the Drought Mitigation Center have done an outstanding job putting together this program. Our January and February sessions proved that these are quality, applicable meetings that producers will gain greatly from, and we had over 30 attendees statewide at each,” Waters said.

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.

Visit, contact your nearest SDSU Extension Regional Center or call Kalyn Waters, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist at 605-842-1267 or Pete Bauman, SDSU Range Field Specialist at 605-882-5140.

The next webinar is scheduled for May 29 and will focus on Economic Factors to Weigh in Making Decisions during Drought.