December 26, 2016
Winter is a time of planning, of getting those proverbial ducks in a row for the new year. And while there are financial issues and purchase plans to review, Colorado State University experts also think state producers should be considering the threat of drought in 2017.
A drought can lead to a key challenge for ranchers. Low forage production caused by lack of water can compound existing economic problems. It is important that ranchers understand the importance of the range resource, and how best to use it to support your operation through dry, tough times.
The workshop "Thinking About Drought" is set for Jan. 23 at Kirk Lions Hall, Kirk, Colo. The event is supported by Ron Richards and the Yuma County Conservation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Colorado State University.
The program starts in the morning with a discussion of a variety of topics related to drought on rangelands.
There will be a cowboy beef lunch, and following that, attendees will travel to a local ranch for demonstration of drought evaluation techniques, as well as various range management monitoring practices. It's a hands-on event.
Organizers point out that the ultimate source of income on a ranch is the forage base. Range plants convert sunlight, CO2 and water into food for livestock. Taking advantage of this relationship is critical to livestock operations. Drought has a substantial impact on rangeland plants. The greatest effect is that there are fewer of them, which means that the remaining plants are more important.
Don Schoderbek, a CSU Extension range specialist, will speak about how plants work, why timing leaf removal (defoliation) is important, and the decisive determinant of drought and rangeland survival — plant roots.
Roy Roath, a CSU emeritus professor and Extension range specialist, has several decades of experience with Colorado rangelands. He will speak about the importance of water management in drought environments. Water affects every aspect of livestock production on rangelands, from soil to plant to animal. Sound water management can make or break your ranch in drought times, and Roath is intimately familiar with this complex issue.
In a drought, there are fewer plants on the land, and the remaining plants are less vigorous. Julie Elliott, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service range management specialist, will demonstrate what this process looks like on the land — from the scale of the individual plant and roots, up to the whole pasture. If the weather is bad, there will be an indoor work session on developing a drought plan for your ranch.
To register, contact the Yuma County Conservation District at 970-332-3173, ext. 3; or via email at [email protected] by Jan. 19.
Source: Colorado State University
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