Drought: How to Prepare and Where to Find Help

Drought afflicted the Midwest and California in recent seasons and is likely to continue to impact farmers in these states as climate change becomes a more pressing agricultural concern.

When dealing with a drought or any natural disaster, one of the most valuable tools a farmer can implement is record keeping.  “Currently, government agencies, lenders and insurance companies are requiring better and more accurate records,” a publication from Pennsylvania State University’s Cooperative Extension describes. “Not only bushels per acre, income and expenses, but also weather records are becoming increasingly necessary.” South Dakota State University’s Cooperative Extension released the “Record Keeping in Farm Management” publication to explain the importance of record keeping, particularly during a drought. As the article explains, there’s very little that a farm can do to prepare for a drought, but thorough record keeping can improve a farm’s financial wellbeing. This publication comprehensively provides an overview of what careful record keeping should look like.

While record keeping and water management techniques can make a vast difference for a farmer facing drought, there are some online resources that can help.

Farm Aid Resource Guide

Farm Aid developed a Crisis Support Resource Guide that has a list of resources to guide farmers to educational resources during a time of crisis, which includes a natural disaster such as drought. These resources also dip into other relevant topics, such as where a farmer can turn when in need of legal advice or services.

Beginning Farmers LLC

The Beginning Farmers LLC compiled a list of online resources applicable to beginning and experienced farmers. These resources provide a look into the science behind drought and how to plan for its impact and manage the repercussions if drought hits. Beginning Farmers also encourages farmers facing drought to contact the organization for more resources.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)

CDFA’s California Drought Information and Resources created a site with organizations and websites that can provide assistance to farmers facing drought. While some of these are state-based organizations, there are many resources available to farmers on a national scale. The site provides a list of USDA grant programs that may apply to farmers during a drought.

Click here for drought updates and more information on USDA assistance programs.

Get Growing…Spring Workshops Around the Country

Spring has sprung! Are you ready for the upcoming growing season? Check out these workshops and classes to launch your farm into the growing season:

 

Cover Crop Workshop

April 5, 2013

North Iowa Events Center, 3700 4th St, SW

Mason City, Iowa

Join Iowa State University, the USDA-National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment and The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, to learn about the use of cover crops in sustainable fruit and vegetable production systems. This workshop is geared toward commercial horticulture extension specialists, county horticulturists, local food organizations, IFVGA and PFI board members, and IDALS and NRCS personnel. Fruit and vegetable growers are also welcome!

Registration is free, but required as space is limited! Click here to register.

For more information contact Dr. Ajay Nair: nairajay@iastate.edu or 515-294-7080

 

Introduction to Vegetable Production Workshop Series

April 6, 2013

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Join Penn State Extension to learn about production skills, strategies, and resources for vegetable production. The workshop series is geared toward beginning farmers and will help to refine techniques and optimize production and profit. The workshop will include demonstrations on both organic and conventional vegetable production, as well as hands-on experience in the latest techniques and tools for small and large farms.

Workshops start on April 6th and go through June. The series costs $300 and includes handouts and other materials.

Click here to learn more and sign up.

Questions? Contact Lee Stivers ljs32@psu.edu / 724-228-6881 or Heather Mikulas hem12@psu.edu / 412-473-2540

 

Managing a Greenhouse from Seed to Field

April 20, 2013

Rancho Cordova, California

Soil Born Farms has ongoing classes as part of their Urban Farmer Series. On April 20th learn how to start your crops from seed. Learn how seeds germinate, and make sure that your seedlings succeed!

The course is $40 and runs from 3:00-6:00pm. Click here to register and for more information.

 

Beekeeping 101

April 20, 2013

Rancho Cordova, California

Learn beekeeping in the classroom and in the field! Brian Fishback, an experienced beekeeper from BD Ranch and Apiary, will demonstrate best practices for keeping bees and producing honey.

The cost of the workshop is $49, $40 Co-op owners, register here through the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.

Click here for more information.

 

Spring Grazing Workshop

April 23, 2013
Boswell, Oklahoma

Learn how to manage a low-input, bermudagrass/ryegrass grazing system while also achieving land stewardship and financial goals. Producer Jan Lee demonstrates forage production management and stocking rates for optimization and efficiency. The workshop runs from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm and includes lunch.

Registration is $20.  Click here to register and for more information.

 

Cover Crop Mixes

April 24, 2013
Online

Learn about different sustainable options for cover crop mixes online. This webinar is being sponsored by NRCS East National Technology Support Center, as part of their Understanding Organic and Sustainable Agriculture series. The webinar will be held from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST.

Click here for more information.

 

Farming Transplants: The Basics of Greenhouse Production for Sales and Farm Use

April 25, 2013

Blue Heron Farm 1641 Shaw Rd.

Lodi, New York 

Become confident in your transplanting abilities! This workshop will teach you how to estimate your market and then plant accordingly. Learn how to time plantings, market transplants and learn about different plant varieties. Greenhouse plant care may also be covered. The workshop will run from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm.

Fee: $5/person; $10/two or more people

Register here by 12:00pm on April 22nd.  Space is limited to 30 people.

Call Stephanie with questions at 585-271-1979 ext. 509.–

 

Composting, Vermiculture & Compost Tea Workshop

April 27, 2013

Warwick, Rhode Island

Join NOFA Rhode Island for a hands-on demonstration of hot composting, worm composting and compost tea. Reinhard Sidor will lead the class, teaching you how to make compost from yard and kitchen waste and then how to use your compost—from container gardening, to use as mulch and fertilizer, to improving soil quality. The workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Workshop fee is $40. Register via email.

For questions, call Sanne Kure-Jensen at (401) 369-3303.

Click here to learn more.

 

Basic AG Raise and Wean Healthy Calves

May 30, 2013

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Learn best management practices to ensure the health and productivity of your calves from birth through weaning. This FREE workshop is designed for beginning cow-calf producers. The workshop runs from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Click here for more information.

 

Urban Farmer Survey

Do you farm in an urban or peri-urban area? If so, New York University, Penn State University, and the National Center for Appropriate Technology welcome your participation in a nationwide survey.

Researchers will use survey results to examine urban and peri-urban farming in the United States, specifically pinpointing:

  1. Technical and informational needs that can be met through outreach programs;
  2. Production, management, and marketing risks for urban farms and the development of programs to address those risks;
  3. And community and policymakers’ awareness of the benefits of urban farming.

Results will be used to create a national outreach and technical assistance program for urban farmers.

There are two surveys—one for urban farmers nationwide and another for Philadelphia farmers specifically (with additional questions related to the Penn State Extension).

Surveys should take about 20 minutes to complete.

For a paper version of the survey, or if you have any questions, contact Lydia Oberholtzer from Penn State University at 301-891-0470 or lso3@psu.edu

Participants will be entered into a drawing to win one of ten $75 gift cards