Making A Difference
Impact Summary Reports
- 2012 - Year in Review
- 2013 Beef Systems
- Learning Child
- Guardianship/Conservator Training Program
- Crops - Youth Programming
- Agricultural Economics
- Cropping Systems Productivity
- Food, Nutrition & Health
- Agriculture Water Management
- Animal Manure Management
- Water Climate Environment - Community
- Business Ventures and Innovation
- ECAP - Entrepreneurial Communities
- 2013 ESI and Beyond
- NACO Institute of Excellence
Drought Resources for the Nebraska Panhandle
Publications, web sites, videos and other information from UNL Extension to help agricultural producers and homeowners respond to drought conditions, or to conserve water anytime.
Irrigation water management - soil water sensors
Soil water sensors are instruments placed in a field to monitor soil water content and crop water use from a growing crop. They can also be placed in fallow or just-harvested dryland winter wheat fields to monitor off-season soil water content from trapped precipitation.
Irrigation water management – ET gauges
An evapotranspiration (ET) gauge, or atmometer, is an accurate way for a farmer to determine how much water a crop will use each week of the growing season. Read more about how they work, how to use them, and how to use a UNL web site to get real-time access to water-use data from ET gauges near you.
Irrigation water management – water optimizer and other tools
The 2013 water outlook does not look good. The area is still in a severe to exceptional drought, and the predicted surface-water irrigation supply may be in the 50- to 60-day range. Groundwater users continue to be under allocations and in a few cases may have exceeded their pumping amounts. With all of this uncertainty, what are producers to do? There are a number of tools available to help manage water resources. One tool a producer can use is Water Optimizer, a Microsoft Excel-based program that can estimate a profit-maximizing cropping mix based on a limited amount of water.
Alternative crops for winter wheat producers
Dryland winter wheat producers in the Nebraska Panhandle anticipating reduced yields or crop failure due to drought have several options to choose from, according to a specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center.
Irrigating dry edible beans with limited supply of water
Despite recent precipitation, dry bean growers in western Nebraska could still face limited supplies of irrigation water in 2013, whether their water supply is surface water or groundwater. Research performed at the Panhandle Center shows that yield loss caused by water stress varies, depending on which growth stage or stages the bean plant is in when water is limited. The general recommendation is to make sure that the bean crop gets adequate water in the first two growth stages, the vegetative and flowering phases, and if it’s necessary to cut back on irrigation, try to do so later in the season, during pod filling.
Utilizing CRP for grazing in drought conditions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to release CRP acres in several Panhandle counties for grazing due to ongoing drought conditions. Utilizing CRP for grazing provides both some challenges and opportunities. Extension Educator Aaron Berger provides some things to think through when deciding whether or not to use CRP for grazing.
Protein supplementation for late spring calving cows
The drought of 2012 and reduced precipitation in 2013 have resulted in very little growth in the native grasses. For producers who calve in late April through early June, this may create a problem for the breeding season. The decreasing plane of nutrition from forage available combined with the demands of lactation and growth on young cows and heifers may cause a decrease in conception rates. Protein supplementation just prior to and during the breeding season when forage quality is low has resulted in increased pregnancy rates.
Forage options following irrigated wheat
Wheat harvest in Nebraska will soon be upon us. As drought conditions continue it appears there will be quite a bit of demand for hay and forage this fall and winter. This may lead many producers to consider what annual forages could be planted into irrigated wheat stubble in July and August. Summer annual forages such as sudan grass, sorghum x sudan hybrids, pearl millet, foxtail millet and teff are all options for producing additional forage. Determining the best option for each operation will depend on water availability, individual goals, available harvesting equipment and when forage is needed.
Tax implications of selling beef herd
Anyone who sold cows and bulls as a result of drought and elected to defer income has probably settled their 2012 tax bill, assuming they are on a cash basis for taxes. Extension Educator Tom Holman offers some reminders of what producers must do to avoid recapturing tax bligations, as well as some thoughts on herd management during a drought.
Management of limit feeding cow-calf pairs in confinement
Nebraska’s continuing drought is limiting residual forage, soil moisture, hay production, and 2013 grass growth. In order to reduce grazing pressure and delay pasture turn out as long as possible, many producers are considering limit feeding cow-calf pairs in confinement. This can be a viable option, but there are several management considerations that need to be addressed.
Drought increases toxic and poisonous plant risk to livestock
Drought increases poisoning risks for livestock by making their desired forages less available, causing timing shifts in grazing, and causing physiological changes in the desired forages on rangelands and pastures. Impacts of toxic and poisonous plant consumption can be as obvious as rapid death, as gradual as hair loss, or as discrete as early abortions and/or failing to breed.
Extension Educator stresses including a drought clause in your grazing lease:
The two most important components of a grazing lease agreement are stocking rate and lease rate, according to Jay Jenkins, UNL Extension Educator in Cherry County. Jenkins recommends that grazing leases should include a clause that covers how grazing pressure will be reduced in response to drought or other natural disaster.
For ranchers, trigger dates and stocking rates are drought mitigation cornerstones:
As the area enters its second year of below average moisture, having and using a written drought management plan to mitigate the impact on grazing lands is key for 2013 and also for long-term forage production.
Grazing and forage management in drought-affected 2013:
Ranchers in drought-stricken parts of Nebraska are facing tough decisions in 2013, including how many livestock their depleted pastures will be able to support and whether to supplement pastures by planting forage crops to be grazed or harvested.
Homeowners: WATER WISE
UNL Extension web sites: