This post was republished with permission from the author. The original was published in the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau ‘Between the Furrows’ Newsletter, September 2013.
By: Rich Casale, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Drought is a normal, recurrent feature of climate. It occurs almost everywhere, although its features vary from region to region. Droughts in California typically occur gradually over several years. California’s extensive water supply system can mitigate the effects of short-term dry periods, however California’s dependence on water for agriculture, industry, and recreation makes drought planning an economic necessity.
When a drought occurs the impacts are felt first by those most reliant on annual rainfall – farmers and ranchers. With more than 10 million acres of cropland and 30 million acres of rangeland, even a mild drought can have widespread effects. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers free technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers, as well as forest owners and communities, to help them conserve and/or develop water resources on the lands under their control.
NRCS can help with your water, land or crop management concerns through on-site consultations and/or with the development of a conservation plan. Conservation plans can include drought planning. Being prepared for a drought and creating a plan will allow you to continue your operation even in the most severe conditions.
NRCS help includes: Improving irrigation systems and delivery; Choosing drought resistant plants; Improving water and water storage; Retaining soil moisture; and Reducing, recycling and reusing irrigation and/or storm water runoff.
All NRCS services and programs are free of charge. Visit us at: www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the Santa Cruz County NRCS office at: 475-1967.