Minimize the Effects of Drought on Cropland

This post was republished with permission from the author. The original was published in the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau ‘Between the Furrows’ Newsletter, April 2014.

On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency in California. Santa Cruz County has seen many droughts come and go over the years, but 2014 is creating especially dire conditions for the area’s farmers and ranchers. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing both technical and financial assistance to local producers that have been impacted by the current drought.

NRCS conservationists are currently helping growers with the planning and installation of practices that are designed to protect irrigated cropland from drought. Practices such as: Irrigation system enhancement that improve uniformity and delivery of water application; irrigation scheduling that help stretch limited water supplies; vegetative and mulching practices that increase infiltration and retention of rainfall and reduce water loss from evaporation; and crop residue and tillage management that improve soil structure and the soil’s ability to hold water for crop use. Other water saving and/or development practices include: seasonal fallowing; crop rotations; and water harvesting projects that tap water sources from active springs, runoff from roofs and other impervious surfaces, and subsurface drainage collection.

NRCS conservationists can help farmers and ranchers understand what options exist for their particular water situation, soil type, production goals and assist with plans to get through the drought.

NRCS is a non-regulatory agency under USDA. All services are free of charge. To find out more or to schedule a site visit with an NRCS specialist contact the Capitola NRCS office at 475-1967.

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