The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has pledged $5 million in grants to study and evaluate the best agricultural practices needed to cope with and adapt to potentially long-term, regular droughts.
Since the winter of 2011, farmers across the country found themselves coping with unusual weather. Nationwide, last winter was unusually mild and dry. This, followed by an early spring led to early blooms and created the hope for an early, long-lasting harvest season. However, the lack of rainfall and record-breaking temperatures quickly dried up these dreams, leaving many farmers scrambling to harvest what crops they can this summer.
The severity of the drought, as well as its widespread nature, has led many to predict that it is a harbinger of conditions to come; that global climate change will lead to regular droughts every spring and summer.
In order to prepare for this potential climatological shift, the NRCS is organizing grants to study alternative agricultural practices designed to cope with drought conditions. Prioritized in these grants are projects that can increase resiliency in grazing systems, increase soil water holding capacity, and study traditional and historical agricultural practices in low-precipitation areas.
“Severe drought conditions across the U.S. have greatly impacted the livelihood of our farmers and ranchers,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “Conservation Innovation Grants allow us to generate and deploy as soon as possible cutting-edge ideas that help farmers and ranchers run sustainable and profitable operations.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer