Mitigating drought is program focus

Jan 10, 2014

While some areas across the Midwest are digging out from another one of Mother Nature’s freak storms, California is on its third consecutive drought stricken winter, and according to forecasts, there is no relief expected in the near future.

Currently, more than 75 percent of the state is enduring some degree of drought, while nearly 8 percent is suffering from extreme to exceptional drought.

California’s drought has worsened this year overall, making it the driest state in the West as of mid-December. Oregon and Nevada take a close second and third, respectively.

Records are being broken all over the state, according to the National Weather Service. San Jose has only received 3.8 inches since last January, well short of its 14-inch average. Oakland is even drier—3.39 inches this year, compared with its 22.8-inch average. The last time it was this dry in San Francisco was in 1917, with 9 inches of precipitation. This year, the city has had less than 6 inches.

With the worsening drought conditions, the University of California has organized a meeting on Jan. 29 entitled, “Mitigating Drought—Optimizing Pasture and Supplemental Feed and Managing Risk.” The meeting is designed to provide ranchers with information to assist them in managing their herds during periods of low feed supply. The discussion will focus on an array of practical tools and strategies that ranchers can deploy to mitigate drought including: practices to get the most effective use out of limited dryland and irrigated pasture forage; alternative protein and roughage supplementation; understanding the economics of supplementation; managing animal health; making culling decisions; and the tax and insurance components related to drought. The meeting will be held at the UC Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center in Browns Valley. While attendance on-site will allow participation in key field demonstration, for those unable to travel to the center the program will also be broadcast on the web.

To view the agenda and register to attend on-site or via the webcast, go to www. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor