Drought: Weathering Troubled Times - University of Wyoming

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Drought: Weathering Troubled Times - University of Wyoming

Drought: Weathering Troubled Times - University of Wyoming

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  • 1. College of AgricultureCooperative Extension ServiceAgricultural Experiment Station a A parched Wyoming eagerly drank the recent spring precipitation. However, the grim news is that one of the worst dry spells in the state’s history is still a reality. Agriculturally speaking, drought means hard times for ranchers, farmers, livestock, crops, gardeners, and the economy. Ultimately, it impacts almost everyone. In this special section, University of Wyoming College of Agriculture faculty members and Cooperative Extension Service educators join forces to help advise drought victims about how to best manage and recover their operations and lands and about how to be resilient as they weather tough times.
  • 2. Page 2 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureDry weather calls for summerSteve Paisley mals is the safest route. WhenUW Cooperative Extension feeding, introduce the high-Service Specialist, Department nitrate feeds gradually. Cattleof Animal Science do have a limited adaptation to higher nitrate levels. By in-A lthough parts of the state received much-neededmoisture during recent troducing feed slowly, one can reduce but not eliminate the risk of having problems. Also,months, perhaps enough to at making sure the overall rationleast “green up” this spring, is balanced by providing ad-there are still no guarantees of equate energy (small amountsadditional summer moisture of supplemental grain) will re-to maintain grass or replenish duce the risk.the already low reservoirs or If forced to feed bales oflivestock water sources. While high-nitrate feed, introducethe recent moisture will allow them slowly, feeding some ofnearly everyone to turn out both the high-nitrate and safethis spring, there are a few is- hay each day. Generally feedsues to consider as the sum- the high-nitrate feed first fol-mer progresses. lowed by the safe feed. There is still the risk that some cowsWater Concerns will eat only the high-nitrate As stock ponds remain hay. For example, dominantlow, the quality of the remain- Pictured are a cow and spring calf. cows may push the thin oring water becomes a nutrition timid cows away from the bet-and health concern. In the fall, ings suggest that sulfate lev- nitrate susceptible forages, pro- are that nitrate levels of 6,000 ter hay, forcing them to eatadult cows typically require 7 els less than 1,000 ppm are ducers can reduce the risk ppm (1 percent KNO3) or less only the high-nitrate forage. Toto 11 gallons of water per day generally safe, with 1,000 to through livestock and forage are generally safe. Nitrate lev- reduce the risk of this, sort thedepending on outdoor tem- 2,500 ppm levels causing re- management. els of 6,000 to 9,000 ppm (1 to cattle into thin/weak cows andperatures and stages of pro- duced performance and occa- 1.5 percent KNO3) are poten- adult cows.duction. Ewes typically require sional cases of polio. Levels ap- Nitrate-Susceptible tially toxic and should be fed When managing high-ni-2 to 3 gallons per day. Poor proaching 2,500 to 4,000 ppm Forages with caution. Nitrate levels over trate forages, it is better to feedquality stock water can actu- of sulfate indicate very poor In most cases forages to 9,000 ppm (1.5 percent KNO3) frequently and not allow cattleally decrease water intake, put- water with definite reductions be most concerned about are are extremely dangerous and to go hungry. Also, it is impor-ting additional stress on an ani- in animal performance and an drought-stressed warm season must be diluted and blended tant to manage feedingmal. Most water tests report increased occurrence of polio. annual forages such as sor- with other feeds. When testing closely, especially during se-Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) as Additional concerns with ghum/sudan “cane” hays and hay for nitrates, be sure to vere weather. If cattle go with-a measure of the concentration poor water quality include millet hays. Weed species such sample from at least 10 bales out feed for a day, they mayof dissolved salts. TDS levels mineral interactions and sec- as kochia, lambsquarters, sun- since there is a lot of variation go back and pick throughless than 3,000 parts per mil- ondary mineral deficiencies flower, and pigweed can also in nitrate levels from bale to coarse stalks from previouslion (ppm) are generally safe that can occur with high TDS accumulate nitrates, so emer- bale. It is generally safer to feed feedings. Those lower stalksfor livestock. Levels of 3,000 to and high sulfate water. High gency feed resources should susceptible forages to non- are where most of the nitrate5,000 may not dramatically levels of sulfate or other min- be watched closely. Finally, pregnant animals, and it is located, increasing the riskaffect adult livestock, but erals can compromise an under extremely stressful con- should be remembered that of nitrate problems.young, growing livestock may animal’s immune system, ditions, additional crops such nitrates remain in the plant no Finally, be aware of allhave poor performance and leading to an increased inci- as corn, wheat, oats, and bar- matter how long hay is stored. sources of nitrates. Somecharacteristic looseness. TDS dence of health problems. It ley can also accumulate ni- stock water sources can belevels of 5,000 to 7,000 should is always a good idea to trates. From a management Feeding high in nitrates, adding to thenot be offered to pregnant or sample and test water sources standpoint, the plant nitrates Recommendations risk. Also, poor water sourceslactating animals. to avoid future problems. are generally located in the Once the nitrate level of a can reduce a herd’s water con- Another water quality lower 1/3 of a stalk. Raising the forage is known, one can sumption, also adding to theconcern is the sulfate level of Concerns of High cutterbar when swathing or manage accordingly. The best problem.water. High iron and sulfate Nitrate Forages reducing the grazing pressure situation is to keep the overall While there are risks asso-levels can affect trace mineral During Drought so animals are not forced to ration nitrate level below ciated with using high-nitrateabsorption, especially copper, While concerns about ni- graze the lower portion of 6,000 ppm nitrate (1 percent feeds, weather conditions, haybut high sulfate water can also trates typically occur during the stalks will help reduce the ni- KNO3). This may mean blend- availability, and hay prices mayincrease the risk of fall and winter when produc- trate concerns. ing or mixing hays. When limit any other alternatives.polioencephalomalacia or po- ers are purchasing and feeding feeding nitrate-susceptible for-lio. Symptoms of polio in Nitrate Testing ages, the safest method is to Following a few basic guide- hay, it may be just as impor- lines and managing cattlecattle include blindness, signs When testing forages for tant to think about nitrate con- tub grind and blend with low- closely will definitely reduceof nervousness, and uncoor- nitrate levels, pay close atten- cerns early in the year and re- nitrate hay. If a producer is the risk of nitrate problems.dinated movement. South tion to how the nitrate levels duce the risk of nitrates unable to tub grind, some im-Dakota State University re- through forage-selection deci- are reported. Depending on portant management consid- Supplementationcently reported results from sions, harvesting, and grazing the lab, nitrate levels may be erations result. Strategiesan ongoing project evaluating described as nitrate (NO3), ni- management. Although dry, As mentioned before, Catering the Supplementwater sulfate levels. Based on trate nitrogen (NO3N), or po- stressful weather increases the feeding susceptible forages to to the Situation. One of thetwo years of data, their find- tassium nitrate (KNO3). Gen- risk of nitrate accumulation in growing (non-pregnant) ani- common misconceptions con- eral nitrate recommendations
  • 3. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 3herd management cerning the use of supple- fordable supplements are of- SITUATION 2: Early Weaning ments is the “one-size-fits-all” fered, summer supplementa- Adequate to limited hay/ Raising the cutterbar Another important sum- mentality. In reality, there is a tion programs are going to be forage available, and the mer management consider- wide range of responses to an option to consider. It is im- forage is not providing when swathing or ation is early weaning, espe- enough nutrients to supplements, depending on a portant not only to capture all meet a cow’s reducing the grazing cially if summer rains do not number of factors. Some of of the benefits that are avail- come and forage becomes these factors include the qual- able through drought assis- requirements pressure so animals limited. Studies involving early This situation describes ity of the forage being grazed, tance programs but also to are not forced to weaning indicate that remov- the quantity or availability of make the supplement fit the common conditions when ing a calf during mid to late the forage, the nutrient re- situation to help get the de- cows are close to calving or graze the lower summer reduces a cow’s for- have just begun calving and quirements of the animal be- sired results. When evaluating portion of the stalk age requirement by 35 to 50 ing supplemented, the range supplements, there are are being fed a medium-qual- percent. This reduced forage amount of supplement being three general situations to con- ity meadow hay. The in- will help reduce the requirement may help buy creased energy demands of fed, the source and quantity sider. Each has its own unique nitrate concerns. time, allowing cows to stay on of TDN or energy being sup- solution provided by the late gestation and early lacta- summer grass rather than hav- plied by the supplement, and supplementation program. tion are greater than what is ing to bring pairs home early. the level and quality of the provided in the forage. Often If cows appear thin, early SITUATION 1: There is the first limiting nutrient in protein being offered in the situation would tend to either weaning may also help add adequate forage, but these situations is energy, fol- supplement. During drought increase forage intake or at low forage quality is weight and condition while conditions, the wrong match lowed closely by protein. An least maintain the current for- cows are still on grass. Data limiting intake. additional supplement is of supplement to the situation age intake. One way to stretch from the University of Wyo- This is typically the situa- needed to provide extra en- can have very negative results. the available forage is by feed- ming found that following tion producers face when ergy and protein to meet the For example, feeding small ing supplements that are rela- early weaning, cows gained cows are grazing winter range. nutrient demands of a cow. amounts of a high-protein tively high in energy and low approximately 85 pounds dur- If the pastures have been The best supplement for this supplement (30 percent CP and in protein. These high-energy, ing an 82-day period while saved exclusively for fall and situation is a medium-protein above) to cattle with very lim- low-protein supplements cows still lactating during that winter grazing, there are typi- supplement that provides en- ited forage may not be the best would not work in Situation 1 same period lost an additional cally adequate amounts of for- ergy as well as protein. There match of the supplement for the where the goal is to increase 40 pounds. This occurred age for the herd. The lower are several supplements that situation. Providing high-quality intake and digestibility. They while cows and cow/calf pairs quality of the forage and slow fit this situation well such as supplemental protein typically are designed to replace forage were grazing relatively low- digestion/long retention times higher energy 20s cubes, liq- improves the digestibility of the and actually decrease forage quality range forage in Sep- in rumen limit the amount of uids, blocks, etc. High-fiber forage and increases the intake intake while maintaining ad- tember and October. The early forage cows can eat. As the byproduct feeds also work of low-quality hay. In the situa- equate energy and protein. It weaned calves grazing high- weather turns colder and fe- extremely well in these situa- tion described above, the prob- has traditionally been called a quality meadow regrowth tal growth begins to increase, tions. Byproduct feeds include lem is lack of forage, not its qual- “negative associative effect” gained similarly to those cattle need to increase intake wheat midds, corn gluten feed ity or digestibility. Supplying a when supplements reduce for- calves still nursing their dams to continue to meet their en- pellets, distiller’s grains, beet lower-protein, higher-energy age intake, but in this situa- over this period of time. This ergy needs. Providing small pulp pellets, and probably the supplement may help to meet tion, where forage is limited, management strategy can amounts of a digestible pro- most heavily used medium- a cow’s energy needs while also it works to the producer’s ad- also have major implications tein source will improve diges- protein supplement, alfalfa reducing forage consumption. vantage. High-energy, low-pro- on nutritional costs and the tion of low-quality forage, im- hay. The benefit of these high- As drought assistance pro- tein supplements are typically breed-back efficiency of young proving passage rate and in- fiber byproduct feeds are that grams continue and more af- grain, grain-based range females as 3 and 4-year-olds. creasing forage intake. This they provide needed energy cubes, grain/byproduct mix- While it may not be fea- example of a “positive asso- while also containing ad- tures, etc., with protein levels sible to wean all of the calves ciative effect,” providing a equate protein. They have a below 20 percent. Again, the early, consider weaning a por- small amount of supplement very positive effect on energy While there are risks to increase forage consump- net effect is reducing forage tion of the spring calves early. intake because they can be fed intake while maintaining ad- First and second calf heifers associated with using tion and improve the energy at 3 to 6 pounds daily, and equate energy and protein lev- would definitely benefit from and protein status of a cow, cattle continue to maintain the high-nitrate feeds, has been used for decades. A els for cattle. having the calves removed a same level of forage intake. The three examples de- month to two months early. weather conditions, protein supplement can be of- They are essentially an energy scribed may over simplify the Weaning in two groups may fered as high-protein range and protein “boost” that hay availability, and cubes or pellets, blocks, lick situations. There are obviously also help reduce the stress on doesn’t affect forage intake. several types of supplements, weaning facilities and allow hay prices may limit tubs, liquid supplements, etc. The key points are that the SITUATION 3: Cattle several ways of delivering the more time to address the any other protein level needs to be rela- performance and forage supplements, and additional health and management of alternatives. tively high (30 percent CP and quality are adequate, management considerations. the calves during weaning. It higher), the supplement needs but forage supply is However, they are a step be- may also provide some flex- Following a few basic to be fed or offered in small limited yond the “one-size-fits-all” ibility in marketing calves. This is the situation that mentality with supplementa- Early weaning may be an guidelines and amounts, and the protein many producers were faced tion programs. For additional important consideration every needs to be a highly digestible, managing cattle good quality one with rela- with last summer. Cattle were help or ideas, visit with a Co- year, especially with young in good condition, but there operative Extension Service cows. Getting cows in good closely will definitely tively low levels of NPN to get was little forage left for them educator. He or she can pro- shape before winter sets in is maximum benefit. reduce the risk of to graze. Feeding high or mid- vide additional information important in maintaining ad- protein supplements in this and help work through some equate condition and in improv- nitrate problems. of the choices. ing reproductive performance.
  • 4. Page 4 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureNot much water? Water-wise choices Karen L. Panter properly. Always keep in mind Cooperative Extension Service that any new plantings will Specialist, UW Department of require consistent moisture Plant Sciences until they are established, es- pecially during the winter. T he drought situation has hit Wyoming hard. Even though there may still be snow Step 1 – Developing a Landscape Plan Spend some time plan- on the ground in some places, ning and designing on paper. the situation is that many Analyze the site, taking into ac- Wyoming cities will put water- count existing structures, ing restrictions in place this other plants, and neighbors. year. Some already have. Then decide what areas are Many believe people needed: turf area for the kids, should practice water conser- a vegetable garden, a center vation all year long inside and for entertaining, or a dog zone. outside homes rather than just in the landscape during the Step 2 – Limiting Turf growing season. Try simple Areas things like washing only full Note that this does not say loads of laundry or dishes, eliminate turf areas. For areasGazania linearis – Gazania with little to no foot traffic, keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge, cutting bath water consider groundcovers such as down a gallon or two, and cut- carpet bugle (Ajuga), thyme ting down shower time a (Thymus), vinca (Vinca minor), minute or two. These will all nettle (Lamium), or sweet go a long way towards saving woodruff (Galium). For heavily the most precious western re- used areas, consider mixtures source – water. of turfgrasses. For areas that In the landscape there are may be tough to maintain and all sorts of wonderful plant mow, consider perennial orna- types from annuals to ever- mental grasses such as feather greens that don’t require reed grass (Calamagrostis much water. And for plants acutiflora), northern sea oats that require a bit more irriga- (Chasmanthium latifolium), tion, there are watering sys- blue oats (Helictotrichon tems and mulches available to sempervirens), or switch grass keep the water in the ground (Panicum virgatum). where the plants need it. Keep in mind that turf ar- Years ago, Denver Water eas help to cool down the en- coined the term “xeriscape” to vironment, soften the land- denote landscaping with low- scape, and provide essential water-using plant material. oxygen. Using rock or gravelCerastium tomentosum – Snow in Summer (No, it’s not pronounced mulch near a home may end “zeroscape.”) Unfortunately, up heating the area. Any sav- many people think this means ings in water might be offset gravel and cactus, but nothing by air conditioning costs in- could be farther from the side. truth. Others have used the Step 3 – Selecting and term “water wise.” Either way, Zoning Plants there is a definite process in- Appropriately volved in landscaping to cut Put the right plants in the down irrigation needs. right places. Group plants with There are seven steps in- similar water requirements to- volved in setting up a water- gether to make irrigation sim- wise landscape or xeriscape. pler and more efficient. Look These steps are, briefly: 1) for microclimates around developing a landscape plan, structures. Every yard or land- 2) reducing turf areas, 3) im- scape will have shady areas proving the soil, 4) selecting that stay moister than south- appropriate plants, 5) mulch- facing zones. Use plant mate- ing the soil, 6) irrigating effi- rials that will fit these particu- ciently, and 7) maintaining lar areas.Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue Oat Grass
  • 5. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 5important for gardens and landscapes Step 4 – Improving the Step 6 – Irrigating Step 7 – Maintaining Soil Efficiently Properly This is probably the most Note that this does not say A no-maintenance land- important step in any land- stop watering. Water accord- scape is almost nonexistent, scaping, xeric or otherwise. ing to area and plant type as but low maintenance is pos- Before any plants are put in well as weather patterns. Use sible, depending on the plant the ground, add good quality drip irrigation where possible material. Some xeriscape or organic matter. Put a layer for annuals, perennials, and water-wise gardens may need about two inches thick on the vegetables. Other types of as much maintenance as a area to be planted and then watering systems should be more traditional garden. Such till or spade it in to a depth of used for large trees and shrubs routine tasks as weeding, about six inches. Also, core as well as turf areas. These can deadheading, fertilizing, and aerate lawn areas at least once include overhead sprinklers occasional mowing will still a year. This allows better wa- Perovskia – Sage Calamagrostis acutiflora – and automatic systems. Re- need to be done. ter and air penetration to the Feather reed grass member to change the auto- The tables below list some grass root systems. Leave the landscaping. Good quality or- ganic mulches (gravel, rock, matic clock according to the suggestions for water-wise cores on the turf since they ganic mulches (bark, straw, etc.) can also be used but can weather and season. “Set and plant materials from trees to will add nutrients back to the etc.) keep moisture in the soil, be warm. The type that should forget” is too common and is annuals and even a few shade area as they break down. minimize evaporation, moder- be used (inorganic or organic) not appropriate. Whatever sys- plants. ate soil temperatures, mitigate tem is used, make sure it is Step 5 – Using Mulches depends on the landscape de- freeze/thaw damage, and add sign and the long-term goals functioning properly and is This is arguably the sec- organic matter back into the for the area. not clogged or split or leaking. ond most important step in soil as they decompose. Inor- Trees Groundcovers Acer ginnala deciduous amur maple Antennaaria dioica pussytoes Crataegus crus-galli deciduous cockspur hawthorn Cerastium tomentosum snow-in-summer Gymnocladus dioicus deciduous Kentucky coffeetree Polygonum affine fleece flower Juniperus scopulorum evergreen Rocky Mountain juniper Santolina chamaecyparissus lavender cotton Pinus aristata evergreen bristlecone pine Sedum (many species) stonecrop Pinus ponderosa evergreen ponderosa pine Sempervivum sp. hens and chicks Pinus cembroides edulis evergreen pinyon pine Thymus pseudolanuginosus wooly thyme Prunus virginiana deciduous chokecherry Veronia pectinata blue woolly speedwell Quercus macrocarpa deciduous bur oak Grasses Shrubs Agropyron cristatum bunch turf grass crested wheatgrass Caryopteris x clandonensis deciduous blue mist spirea Bouteloua gracilis clump blue grama grass Ceratoides lanata or ornamental, turf Krascheninnikovia lanata deciduous winterfat Calamagrostis acutiflora ornamental feather reed grass Cercocarpus ledifolius deciduous mountain mahogany Festuca arundinacea turf grass tall fescue Cotoneaster apiculatus evergreen cranberry cotoneaster Festuca ovina glauca ornamental blue fescue Juniperis chinensis evergreen Chinese juniper Helictrotrichon sempervirens ornamental blue oat grass Juniperus communis evergreen common juniper Oryzopsis hymenoides ornamental Indian rice grass Juniperus horizontalis evergreen spreading juniper Juniperus sabina evergreen savin juniper Annuals Potentilla fruticosa deciduous cinquefoil Robinia neomexicana deciduous New Mexico locus Coreopsis tinctoria tickseed Eschscholzia californica California poppy Perennials Gaillardia pulchella blanket flower Gazania (several species) gazania Achillea sp. yarrow Gomphrena globosa globe amaranth Asclepias tuberosa butterfly weed Lavatera trimestris annual mallow Callirhoe involucrata wine cup Pennisetum setaceum rubrum purple fountain grass Centranthus ruber valerian Portulaca grandiflora moss rose Eriogonum umbellatum sulfur flower Portulaca oleracea purslane Gaillardia x grandiflora blanket flower Sanvitalia procumbens creeping zinnia Hemerocallis sp. daylily Zinnia angustifolia narrowleaf zinna Nepeta x faassenii catmint Oenothera missouriensis evening primrose Shade plants Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian sage Penstemon (some species) beardtongue Arctostaphylos uva-ursi evergreen shrub kinnikinnick Salvia (many species) sage Heuchera sanguinea perennial coral bells Sedum sp. stonecrop Mahonia repens creeping grape holly Tanacetum densum partridge feather Symphoricarpos x chenaultii chenault coral berry Vines Lonicera (some species) honeysuckle vine Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia creeper Polygonum aubertii silver lace vine
  • 6. Page 6 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureDrought affects livestock diseaseDonal O’Toole particularly dairy cattle, whenProfessor and Department concentrations exceed 1,000Head, UW Department of ppm. Concentrations in ex-Veterinary Sciences cess of 5,000 ppm will de- crease production in rangeMerl Raisbeck animals and may cause illnessProfessor, UW Department of and/or death.Veterinary Sciences Salt poisoning leads toLynn Woodard seizures and prostration. SaltProfessor, UW Department of poisoning/water deprivation isVeterinary Sciences especially hazardous during times of high temperatures.T hree years of drought in the high plains have hadan appreciable impact on the High levels of magnesium (greater than 250 ppm) may aggravate the problem. Thus,range of diseases that Univer- This is the brain of a steer with PEM. The arrows point to areas of damaged gray matter. Higher complete salt screens should magnification of the boxed area shows necrotic gray matter of brain.sity of Wyoming diagnosti- be requested when watercians at the Wyoming State which can be obtained from a ties suggest concentrations of during drought due to irritation samples are collected for test-Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) county agent, to collect 10 less than 500 ppm as a safe caused by dust. Fine dust par- ing. One recent case occurredrecognize in Wyoming live- to15 sub-samples from each cutoff for water. If both feed ticles enter the airways and when yearlings were moved tostock. Many of these are just stack or load of hay. Results and water contain appreciable damage the lungs, setting the a pasture where they could notworse cases of what is seen in obtained from testing samples concentrations of nitrate, one scene for infection by micro- locate a water tank. The de-normal years, but some are collected by grabbing handfuls has to consider the contribu- bial agents. Feedlot and ranch hydrated yearlings developedunique to periods of extended here and there are unreliable tion from both sources. In operators sometimes use the constipation and/or diarrhea,drought. since they are likely to miss other words, subtoxic concen- term “dust pneumonia,” but weakness, emaciation, and aggressive behavior. SomeNitrate poisoning nitrate “hot-spots” in the hay. trations of NO3 in water com- this is not specific and the con- It is important to have testing bined with subtoxic concen- dition seen may have nothing died before finding water. A major risk during peri- done at a laboratory familiar trations in hay may result in to do with inhaled dust. One Some dehydrated steers thatods of drought is nitrate (NO3) with this type of analysis. For- toxicity. way to minimize losses is to found the water drank to ex-poisoning of adult ruminants. age nitrate analysis is differ- Horses are resistant to ni- give modified live vaccines for cess, developed convulsions,Drought stress exacerbates ent from the similar-sounding trate intoxication. Assuming viruses like BRSV with precon- and died. In another recentthe tendency of many plants nitrate-nitrogen test on water the hay is good in other re- ditioning shots. By contrast, episode, 130 cattle died in ato accumulate nitrate, particu- samples by environmental spects, moderately high NO3 killed products have, in some 48-hour period as a result oflarly oat hay and Sudan grass laboratories. It is recom- hay can be fed to horses. If the cases, increased the disease salt poisoning.hybrids that were fertilized in mended that samples be NO3 concentration is not too severity in BRSV outbreaks. Polioencephalomalaciaanticipation of normal mois- tested at the Wyoming Depart- high (less than 1.5 percent), it Stressed animals are more sus- (“polio” or PEM) due to high-ture. While it is a good idea to ment of Agriculture’s Analyti- can be diluted to acceptable ceptible to infections of all sulfate (more than 2,500 ppm)test hay before feeding it, it is cal Services Laboratory in concentrations with clean kinds. It is important to stick water is another disease exac-especially important during a Laramie [(307) 742-2984; ac- feed. Feed must be thoroughly with a good vaccination pro- erbated by drought. Sulfate isdrought. Nitrate poisoning cession forms available online mixed before serving (e.g., gram during a drought. concentrated in stock pondsimpairs the ability of blood to at www.wyagric.state.wy.us/ using a grinder) otherwise and sinkholes by evaporationcarry oxygen. The result is aslab/aslab.htm.] It is impor- some cattle may still get a Blue-green algae so that water sources thatsudden death, which may tant to understand how results toxic dose. Merely throwing poisoning were previously safe becomestrike a large number of adult are reported since there are out one bale of “bad” and two Blooms of toxic blue- deadly under drought condi-cattle in a herd at once with- several ways to express nitrate bales of “good” hay does not green algae leading to cattle tions. Like nitrate poisoning,out warning. In most cases, concentration. In fact, one constitute dilution. Fermenta- losses occur on rare occasions the sulfur contents of feed andcattle are found dead, and measure of a laboratory’s ex- tion may decrease NO3 con- in the High Plains. Blooms water are additives in causingtreatment is impractical. This pertise is whether its person- tent somewhat if there is suf- form on bodies of water un- the disease. In spite of itsis one of the more common nel make recommendations ficient soluble carbohydrate der conditions of heat, stagna- name, it has nothing to docauses of poisoning confirmed based upon results and offer present, but most Wyoming tion, eutrophication (high ni- with the infectious diseaseby the WSVL in cattle. Lower more than just a number. forages lack the necessary trogen and nutrients), low flow poliomyelitis in children –concentrations of dietary ni- The WSVL uses less than energy to fuel the reaction. rates, and a concentrating polioencephalomalacia is atrate may also cause abortion. 0.5 percent NO3 (measured as The probiotic feed additive wind. Toxic algal blooms lead technical term for breakdown Hay should be sampled the nitrate ion) as a “safe” cut- Bova Pro® (FarMor Biochem, to sudden death due to liver of gray matter in the brain,for nitrate testing after it is cut off for forage. Many authori- Milwaukee), based upon a pat- damage, shock, and/or central which is what happens in bothand cured. Use a bale corer, ented Propionibacterium bac- nervous system injury. This is dehydration/salt poisoning teria, is advertised to decrease a rare cause of loss in Wyo- and sulfate poisoning. rumen NO3 and blood meth- ming. When losses occur, the Ponds are the biggest emoglobin concentrations by death toll can be heavy and problem, but well water may 40 to 50 percent. Preliminary sudden. also be high in sulfates. Al- though PEM is normally a data looked promising when Dehydration-salt the product was introduced problem in spring and sum- poisoning and mer when water consumption several years ago. sulfate poisoning is greatest, it may occur in any Dust and pneumonia (“polio”) season when sulfate concen- Bovine respiratory disease, High levels of NaCl (com- trations are high or if animals especially due to bovine respi- mon salt) and/or water depri- are abruptly exposed to high- ratory syncytial virus (BRSV) vation are hazardous to live- sulfur waters. Clinically, ani-Three of 130 dead cattle that died of salt poisoning over a 48- and Pasteurella (Mannheimia) stock. Sodium may affect pro- mals become blind and showhour period in one herd in Wyoming are shown. bacteria, may be more serious duction in sensitive animals, nervous signs such as incoor-
  • 7. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 7on the high plains dination and a goose-stepping ing large amounts of dense, and open-mouth breathing in Plants containing high con- The sudden switching of gait. Testing stock water is poor roughage may cause ex- the absence of coughing centrations of soluble ox- feeds or increases in grains important to prevent prob- tensive lesions in the mouth shortly after they are turned alates (Halogeton and grease- may lead to rumen acidosis lems. Cattle develop some tol- and throat, resulting in ab- out on fertilized or irrigated wood) are more toxic when and diarrhea. Drought-related erance to elevated sulfate wa- scesses of the head region. aftermath. This disease pre- ingested by sheep lacking acidosis is common when ters if they are introduced to Several episodes have oc- sents a challenge to producers adequate water. Locoweeds short feed inventories neces- it gradually. There is no cost- curred in which adult animals during periods of drought. remain toxic even in winter sitate more frequent switches effective method for removing had such severe oral lesions Most ranchers don’t move months. Cattle may consume or when some non-traditional sulfate from stock water. Haul- that they were unable to swal- cattle to meadows until after more locoweed during a feeds such as baker’s ing water may be the only low and lost weight or died heavy frosts, which lower the drought. Clinical signs are byproducts or dough (high car- option on some ranches with due to pus draining into the risk. During a drought this abortion, nervousness, and bohydrate sources) are added a high sulfate problem. lungs from mouth abscesses. may not be an option. Preven- brisket disease. Pine needle suddenly to rations. The pre- In one episode, 23 of 150 adult tative strategies include gradu- abortion cases may occur vention of abomasal impac- Salinity cattle belonging to one pro- ally adapting cattle to a pas- more commonly during tions, rumen acidosis, and Sodium and sulfate are ducer developed large, ture over 10 to 12 days, cut- drought as cattle will eat the hazards of unusual feeds cen- not the only elements concen- chronic, pus-filled facial swell- ting and windrowing the pas- needles more readily. ters on providing a proper trated in livestock water sup- ings. Cattle had large lymph plies by drought. A number of nodes due to secondary bac- different inorganic substances terial infections. Treatment cumulatively contribute to the was unavailing. No foxtail or property of water referred to other penetrating plant frag- as “salinity.” Simply stated, the ments were found, and the salinity of a water sample is owner was adamant that he what is left after the water is avoided foxtail stands when boiled off and organic com- haying. The owner ran the pounds are oxidized. Salinity cattle on an arid creek where may be indirectly measured as there were heavy stands of total dissolved solids (TDS) or greasewood (Sarcobatus conductivity. Although the re- vermiculatus). Due to the lationship between salinity drought and lack of forage, the and disease is not as clear-cut cattle probably grazed on as for sodium and sulfur, high- greasewood and developed salinity water does not sup- extensive wounds of the port productive animals. The These three horses have swelling of the brisket or shoulder area due to pigeon fever. mouth due to the stiff spines impact depends upon the of the plant. Opportunistic bac- class of animals and their wa- ture before turnout, and ex- Management of plant poi- diet. Rations should be bal- teria infected the wounds and ter requirements. For ex- posing less susceptible sonings centers on preven- anced to allow for optimal pro- created the clinical problem. ample, lactating dairy cows younger stock (less than 15 tion. Grazing management tein, mineral, energy, and Coarse feed can also result may be affected by as little as months old) or sheep to the involves the prevention of roughage contents. Roughage in abomasal impaction in 1,000 ppm TDS whereas beef pasture first. Ionophores such overgrazing by proper pasture should be of the proper den- cattle. Heifers in late pregnancy cattle may tolerate as much as as monensin will prevent or rotation and by reducing sity to allow for optimal gas- are at most risk due to the in- 5,000 to 7,000. High salinity reduce pulmonary emphy- stocking rates. Weed control trointestinal activity. Unusual creased nutrient demands of is more likely to result in pro- sema if fed in advance, but can be attained by proper feeds, while tempting at times, combining growth and gesta- ductivity losses than in clini- many cows won’t use the fencing, prudent application should be consciously avoided tion. Pregnant heifers develop cal disease and deaths. blocks and they are of no of weed killers, and mowing/ or viewed with skepticism. bloat, recumbency, and die value once clinical signs begin. plowing. If herbicides are Sudden feed switches should Coarse feed with large amounts of black Keep a close eye on cows for used, beware that some can be avoided. It is helpful to ac- Poor quality feed can lead fluid in the rumens and impac- a few days after a change to temporarily increase toxicity climate cattle to new rations to diseases when nutritional tions in the abomasum. lush meadows. and/or decrease the palatabil- slowly. contents are low and/or alter- Pulmonary ity of plants. nate feeds are abused. Feed- Toxic plants Pigeon fever emphysema (“cow Unusual feedstuffs The danger from poison- myositis in horses asthma”) ous plants is magnified during Feeding of unusual feeds A disease that is unusual Pulmonary emphysema drought. Overgrazing, aggra- or those of unknown quality for Wyoming except in with edema (“cow asthma,” vated by poor pasture growth, and composition may be drought years is a bacterial “grunts,” “fog fever”) is asso- forces animals to seek less tempting to ranchers when infection that most often af- ciated with an abrupt change palatable, potentially toxic quality feed is scarce. Unusual fects the brisket of horses. It from dry pastures to mead- plants. Plant populations in or unbalanced rations can lead is called pigeon fever because ows, especially regrowth pastures tend to change as to mineral and other dietary of the pigeon-breasted appear- meadows after haying. The drought-resistant weeds begin deficiencies leading to insidi- ance of affected horses. disease occurs because of high to dominate more desirable ous disease in herds. An ex- The disease is caused by concentrations of the amino forage plants. Drought stress ample of toxicosis due to an a specific bacterial agent and acid L-tryptophan in forage. may increase the toxicity of unusual feed involves whey, is probably spread by flies. It The amino acid is converted some plants such as nitrate- which when used as a supple- is not known how drought pre- to a toxin in the rumen, caus- accumulating and cyanide- ment may contain toxic quan- disposes horses to this non- ing an acute reaction in the forming species. Exposure to tities of salt (causing seizures) fatal disease. More than 100 lungs. The result is an acute toxic plants may occur directly or fat (causing bloat). Grazing horses with this disease were respiratory distress syndrome on the pasture or in poor qual- of turnips has led to This is the skinned head of a diagnosed in Wyoming in in a high proportion of the ity feeds obtained from fields polioencepha-lomalacia (PEM) cow with extensive abscess 2002, most in the months of formation in the cheeks, herd. Cattle display character- stressed by drought and/or from excessive sulfur. August to November. probably due to coarse feed. istic breathlessness, distress, overgrown with toxic weeds.
  • 8. Page 8 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureTrees and shrubs demand specialwatering to survive droughtDonna Cuin Trees and shrubs also tree roots. Remember, treesUW Cooperative Extension need to be watered periodi- evolved in forests where treeService, Program Associate I, cally during the winter canopies shaded their rootsNatrona County months. The necessity for day in and day out through- supplemental water depends out hot summer days.T rees and shrubs are the foundation plants in anylandscape whether in a rural upon the presence or lack of snow cover, daytime tempera- tures, and wind. Typically in Trees and shrubs have developed over time with de- caying organic matter cover-windbreak or an urban setting. Wyoming the recommenda- ing the soil over their roots.These plants live the longest tion is to apply water when the The use of organic mulchesand are the most expensive daily temperatures exceed 45 helps to recreate a more natu-assets in landscape plantings. degrees. Warm winter tem- ral environment. As organicWith long-lasting, severe peratures lead to the loss of matter begins to break down,drought conditions, trees and snow cover and are usually the presence of fungus willshrubs should receive the focus brought on by warm Chinook increase, further assisting inin sustainable landscapes. If winds. Watering is not recom- this break-down process. Treeswater supplies are short, trees near the tips of their growing application is to take the diam- mended during high winds. have lived surrounded by fun-and shrubs should receive the ends. However, the critical root eter of a tree times the five Summer or winter, trees will gus for centuries. This is whymost attention. mass is within the drip line of minutes needed to get 10 gal- need the same amount of it has become increasingly Tree roots develop in a the tree. By watering within lons of water flow. Therefore, water in the soil to sustain life. more prevalent forfashion similar to that of their the drip line, one can create 8-inch diameter trees will However, in the winter, water homeowners and landscapersabove-ground growth. Trees soil moisture for the greatest need 40 minutes of water flow will not need to be applied as to do away with turf grassesdevelop approximately 40 majority of the roots. to receive 80 gallons of water. frequently. Watering once a growing over tree roots withinpercent of their mass above Moisture applied to turf Most trees will need three month from October through the drip line of trees andground and 60 percent below grass associated with trees will waterings per month from April will supply plenty of wa-ground. This means that there also supply moisture to the April through October. ter to sustain trees. Shrubsis more living plant tissue be- tree roots below the roots of Shrubs need to be wa- may benefit from wateringlow ground dedicated to ab- the turf grass. If watering rows tered approximately once ev- twice per month if conditionssorbing moisture and gather- of trees in a windbreak, one ery week if there is a lack of warrant watering. Shrubs willing nutrients from the soil. should think of it as watering natural precipitation. Estab- also require less water in theHowever, the roots tend to the tree area, not the rows of lished shrubs need between 2 winter months than during thespread farther from the trunk tree trunks. Be sure to spread and 10 gallons per week based growing season. Establishedand do not grow to a depth water applications over the upon their size. Small shrubs shrubs will only require 5 togreater than 18 to 24 inches. entire tree-root areas, rather less than 3 feet tall need 2 to 18 gallons per month duringThis translates to a shallow than focusing on areas close 4 gallons of water per week. the winter months. Newly es-root structure growing close to to each tree trunk. Medium shrubs between 3 tablished trees and shrubsthe soil surface and spreading Water deeply and infre- and 6 feet tall need 5 to 7 gal- may need watering twice peroutwards from the trunk. This quently to create moist soil to lons. Large shrubs more than month depending upon win-spread can be up to three to a depth of 12 inches. To as- 6 feet tall will need from 8 to ter conditions.five times the height of a tree. sure survival, a tree will need 10 gallons per week during the Mulch is a garden product Watering trees at the drip 10 gallons of water per inch growing season. that is almost crucial for suc-line of tree branches and be- of trunk diameter with each Newly planted trees and cess in growing trees andyond is recommended. As watering. A typical garden shrubs need additional, shrubs during drought condi-shown in the above illustra- hose on medium pressure will supplemental water applica- tions. Mulch is typically some-tion, the finer moisture-gath- supply 10 gallons in 5 minutes tions during their first growing thing organic like shredded shrubs. Grasses tend to haveering root tissues are at the ex- of run time. Test hoses for ac- season. These plants need to tree bark, chipped tree branch root structures more suited totreme ends of the tree roots. curacy. The way to calculate expend a great amount of en- material, coconut hulls, or bacterial colonization ratherIn order to gather water, the how long to leave water run- ergy to develop a healthy nu- pine branches and needles. than the fungal colonies whichroots need access to water ning for appropriate water trient and water-seeking root There is an extensive list of are preferred by trees. system in their first year. This other materials that can also Mulched areas will also help growth requires water and make wonderful mulch for improve the pH acid level of nutrients from the soil. Due to tree areas. In Wyoming these soil around tree roots. the dry climate in Wyoming, products can be difficult to use These practices in rural the water source must be in high-wind-exposure areas, and urban landscape settings supplemented even in low- but rocks and gravel can pro- will improve success with trees water-requiring plants until vide alternative sources of soil and shrubs and help to con- the root system is developed protection. The main purpose serve water during years of and well established. During for using mulch is to prevent drought. For suggestions on that first critical year of root soil moisture evaporation. The species and varieties of trees establishment, small shrubs organic mulches will also and shrubs suited to a particu- will require 4 to 6 gallons of break down to add nutrients lar area, contact a local Uni- water per week. Remember to to the soil and improve its versity of Wyoming Coopera- keep in mind that the soil moisture-holding capacity. tive Extension Service office. should be kept moist, not wet, Mulches will help in weed pre- to encourage healthy root vention and in keeping soil growth. temperatures lower around
  • 9. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 9Rigidula medic is a new annual legume forage crop being developed by UW at the Torrington Research and Extension Center for grazing in dryland cropping systems.Equal in quality to alfalfa, the new crop (shown here on April 15) will regenerate from soil seed if given adequate fall moisture or will maintain viability for another year.Alternative crops can helpduring drought emergenciesJim Krall age or that lack a market struc- consideration that could lead pastures with such crops as tions on the production of al-Professor, UW Department of ture. Type III: Crops that are to additional narrowing of the forage turnips. ternative emergency forages.Plant Sciences lacking both a market and a choices is the potential effect To get the best out of win- These can be found at the Web production package but which of herbicide carryover from a ter wheat, it takes 1.8 pounds site www.uwyo.edu/CES/D rought is on everyone’s mind. Regardless ofwhether it is for irrigated crops have potential for both. Among the first type are stand- bys such oats, barley, and previous crop. Do not under estimate this, especially dur- ing dry periods. and 1 pound of nitrogen and phosphorus, respectively, to produce a bushel of grain. plantsci.htm. For summer annual crop- ping, corn, although not anor dryland agriculture, the spring wheat. In the Type II What is the weather going Consider split applications alternative crop in the region,search is on to find an alterna- category would be crops like to do? Many producers have between fall and spring and an is an example of a crop thattive crop or practice that will safflower, Niger thistle, canary planted irrigated winter application of 15 to 30 pounds offers some alternative prac-help get the most out of low- grass, flax, and amaranth. wheat. The crop has a lower of nitrogen at flowering to tices for short-water years.water conditions. In effect, an Type III crops would be milk- water use, but the peak water boost grain protein if there will Consider lower populations,alternative on crop dryland is weed, canola, and hemp. use is early (April 15 to July be a premium for protein. reduced fertility, or short-sea-anything other than winter Grouping crops by season 5), which is important if there There are good pest manage- son hybrids, but remember itwheat. For irrigated areas, it is is another way of narrowing is a concern about late-season ment packages available for is important to get the cropanything other than corn, dry the choices. There are cool- irrigation water availability. this crop, but careful monitor- started right away with a shotbeans, sugar beets, and alfalfa. season grasses like winter Grain yield potential can run ing of insects, foliar diseases, of water if needed. Searching for more than wheat, spring wheat, oats, up to 120 bushels per acre and weeds is important. The Each new crop has its ownthese crops is critical because triticale, and barley and cool- under the best irrigated con- University of Nebraska offers set of production parametersnot all alternative crops have season broadleaf crops like ditions, and with average wa- an irrigated winter-wheat pro- and market challenges. Therea production package or a peas, canola, crambe, and len- ter 80 bushels per acre is rea- duction guide at its Web site may yet be a proso millet con-market to fit Wyoming. David tils for spring and early sum- sonable. One can still get a at www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/ tract to be had, but producersBaltensperger of the Univer- mer production. There are crop of 60 bushels per acre fieldcrops/g1455.htm. Con- may end up looking to forages.sity of Nebraska Panhandle warm-season grasses such as under stressful irrigated con- cerning a second crop of bras- If so, check the University ofResearch Center breaks alter- corn, sorghum, sudangrass, ditions. With a normal year sicas or warm-season grass Wyoming Web site atnative crops into three catego- sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, and secured irrigation water, forage, there is less to go by, www.uwyo.edu/ces/Drought/ries. Type I: Crops which pro- proso, and forage millets and one can plant a second crop but this does not mean there Drought_Main.html as well asducers know how to grow, that a few warm season broadleaf of brassica forage pasture or is not information available. the University of Nebraska Webhave an established market, alternatives like some forage one of the warm-season grass University of Wyoming Profes- site at www.panhandle.unl.edu/but that may not fit current bassicas, sunflower, safflower, forage crops. In New Zealand sor Dave Koch of the Depart- drought/html/rural.html foreconomics. Type II: Crops that and chickpea for summer and producers plant a large num- ment of Plant Sciences has more information on droughtare short of a production pack- early fall production. A further ber of annual forage brassica produced extension publica- and drought strategies.
  • 10. Page 10 Spring, 2003 UW College of Agriculture Economic considerations can help Chris Bastian cluding Wyoming, declined Implications for hope that the drought Cooperative Extension 7 percent in the last year. A Cow-Calf breaks in the coming year. Service Educator, UW Department of number of states in the Producers If a producer chooses South and Midwest added Given the current forecasts complete liquidation of his Agricultural and Applied Economics beef cows during the same for water supply, producers herd now, there is an oppor- time period given adequate need to consider manage- tunity for him to save the feed supplies, and thus the remaining equity in his T he March 1 snowpack estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture beef cow herd size declined only 0.5 percent on a na- ment strategies given the likelihood of reduced grass this summer and of re- business. At this time he would be wise to investi- (USDA) Natural Resources tional basis. The January 1, duced winter feed produc- gate alternatives such as Conservation Service show 2003, cattle inventory also tion again for next winter. refinancing existing debt to most of the state as well as indicated that heifers held Moreover, producers will change payment structures the West at between 50 and as beef cow replacements also be seeking cows to re- that will allow the flexibil- 89 percent of average. Not increased by 0.8 percent stock herds that have been ity to repay with a lower surprisingly, the water sup- compared to a year ago. reduced or liquidated when income stream after liqui- ply forecasts as of March 1 Overall, these inventory the drought does break. dation. A producer may for most of the state and numbers suggest that even This means that bred cows potentially be able to lease western region are also in The number of beef though the West is liquidat- or females purchased for the ground, sell any poten- the 50 to 89 percent of av- ing cows, the cattle cycle breeding likely will be at a tial feed production, per- cows in Wyoming nationally is likely nearing haps look at stockers as a erage range. This coupled premium the next two to with the fact that water dropped by an the end of the liquidation three years. This outlook way to use some summer stored in reservoirs in Wyo- phase and moving into the forage, diversify into recre- estimated 109,000 expansion phase this year. suggests cow-calf produc- ation enterprises, and gain ming and the West is at or ers will have to answer below 50 percent of normal head to 706,000 If drought is not a factor in some hard questions as some off-ranch income to non-western states, more help meet debt obligations points to potentially the from January 1, they approach planning for lowest levels of available ir- heifers will be held for the next several years. First, once he has liquidated his rigation water occurring 2002, to January 1, breeding purposes in the livestock. producers must ask how this season since this most 2003. coming year. Once the ex- many cows their range and Normally someone recent drought started. This pansion phase of the cattle short hay supplies can sus- who liquidates a herd suggests that livestock pro- cycle starts, there is typi- tain in the coming year. would face capital gains ducers will likely face short cally a two-year lag before Second, producers must taxes on the breeding live- some of their cow herds. calves from the expansion stock sales, but there are winter feed supplies again decide how much more The number of beef cows hit the market and calf some special tax treat- next winter. Unless spring equity they can afford to in Wyoming dropped by an prices rise to their highest ments which can be taken and summer moisture re- lose and how far a banker estimated 109,000 head to point in the price cycle as advantage of if drought-re- bounds, grass supplies will will go with them the next 706,000 from January 1, feeder cattle supplies de- lated livestock sales create also be below normal again two years. The answers to 2002, to January 1, 2003. cline. This also marks a income beyond a normal this year given current be- these questions will deter- Idaho, Montana, Utah, time in the market when year’s level. One tax treat- low-normal subsoil mois- mine whether now is the Colorado, Arizona, and the demand for bred cows ment allows for the defer- ture levels. time for a producer to liq- New Mexico liquidated a and consequently bred-cow ral of income for one year Producers in the Rocky uidate his herd completely combined total of 215,000 prices rise given rising calf and requires that the area Mountain region have re- or whether he wants to try head during the same time prices. where production occurred sponded to reduced winter to maintain a minimum period. This means the be designated as eligible for feed and summer grass herd size that his forage re- number of beef cows in assistance by the federal supplies by liquidating sources can support and these western states, in- government. The second
  • 11. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 11livestock producers weather droughtoption allows for the defer- The current outlook for ure within the next cattle existing equipment, freezer with information regardingral of sales for up to two cattle prices indicates that cycle. Thus, if a producer beef sales of some animals, water-supply forecasts, mar-years if a producer faces bred cow prices could be makes the decision to liq- or off-ranch income might ket outlook, government“involuntary conversion” of cyclically high two to three uidate his herd now, he be worth investigating assistance, and the potentialbreeding livestock. This op- years from now. Research should most likely not plan while waiting for the oppor- for income diversificationtion does not require an conducted at North Dakota to start rebuilding the herd tunity to rebuild a herd af- should provide an opportu-area be declared eligible for State University and similar for at least five to six years ter the drought breaks. nity to plan for a course offederal disaster assistance research from the Univer- or use other methods be- Also, now is the time to take action rather than waitingto be used, and gains from sity of Wyoming indicate sides purchases, such as advantage of government for Mother Nature and alivestock sold as the result that bred cows purchased leasing cows on shares. programs which can help lender to decide what willof a weather event such as at the top of the price cycle If a producer decides offset reduced income from happen to an operation.a drought do not have to be are not profitable during that he has the equity and a smaller herd size. Somerecognized if the proceeds their average breeding life a relationship with his recent examples includeare used to purchase re- because the high invest- banker that will allow him the Livestock Assistanceplacement livestock within ment cost cannot be re- to continue, an honest Program, the Livestocktwo years from the end of couped since the majority evaluation of the herd size Compensation Program,the tax year in which the of the calves are sold dur- he can maintain given and other disaster paymentsale takes place. ing the down side of the available feed resources is programs such as the Agri- Unfortunately, for price cycle. This research in- the first step in developing culture Assistance Act thatthese tax-treatment options dicates that ranches that re- a plan. Once he has de- might be offered for live-to be taken advantage of, build herds at the top of the cided how many head he stock or crops produced.livestock must be replaced price cycle lose equity and can maintain, the decision The latest round of the Live-within one or two tax years dramatically increase the for culling should be done stock Compensation Pro-after a drought-related sale. probability of business fail- based on age, desired ge- gram has a sign-up period netics, and performance. starting April 1 and ending Now is a good time to in early June of 2003. Pro- Arming oneself choose cows based on in- ducers should visit their lo- formation related to such cal Farm Services Agency with information things as feedlot perfor- office to discuss available regarding water- mance and carcass merit of programs and eligibility. progeny if it exists. Taking The USDA’s Farm Service supply forecasts, a hard look at how one Agency has also developed market outlook, might be able to reduce a Web site that provides de-Once the expansion phase of the cattle costs should also be done. tails on new and existing governmentcycle starts, there is typically a two-year Can debt be refinanced and disaster assistance at assistance, and the restructured for lower pay- disaster.fsa.usda.gov.lag before calves from the expansion hit potential for ments given low interest There are no easy an-the market and calf prices rise to their rates? Are there other en- swers in dealing with the income terprises that can be under- drought. The best strategy diversificationhighest point in the price cycle as feeder taken to augment income is to first evaluate wherecattle supplies decline. This also marks a given available resources one is financially and what should provide antime in the market when the demand for on the operation? Recre- one’s resources will sup- opportunity to plan ation fees, a bed and break- port. Then hard decisionsbred cows and consequently bred-cow for a course of fast, custom operations that must be made about howprices rise given rising calf prices. could be performed with to proceed. Arming oneself action.
  • 12. Page 12 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureState and federal laws impactagriculture and drought Alan Schroeder the Irrigation Act, which pro- senior appropriator fails to open to an appropriator, Associate Professor, UW vided that first users—prior beneficially use his or her wa- claiming that water to the use“…[F]or in the Department of Agricultural appropriators—held superior ter rights for five consecutive of which he is entitled is be- and Applied Economics rights over subsequent ones. years, a junior appropriator or ing wrongfully diverted bywilderness Wyoming’s constitution estab- another person who might be another…”shall waters T he current generation is not the first in the West to face water shortages and will lished a board of control and a state engineer to oversee water rights within the state. injured if the water right is re- established may fill a request with the board of control to The Wyoming Coopera- tive Extension Service has sev- eral publications summarizing not be the last. Since territo- The board of control consists have the water right declared Wyoming water law which are rial times, Wyoming’s settlers of the state engineer and the abandoned. Similarly, the available at www.uwyo.edu/break out, and and legislators have seen such superintendents of the four state engineer may initiate a ces/pubs/mp7r_03.pdf. shortages not as limitations water divisions within the forfeiture action “[w]hen any 2003 Wyoming Sessionstreams in the but as challenges. Wyoming’s state. The board is responsible appropriator has failed, inten- Laws, Chapter 200. legislature adopted a detailed for overseeing “the waters of tionally or unintentionally, to Wyoming’s legislature re- system of laws governing wa- the state…their appropriation, use any portion of surface,desert.” ter rights, encouraging water distribution and diversion, underground, or reservoir cently modified the enabling act for the state loan board to development, and providing and…the various officers con- water appropriated by authorize loans “for the pur-Isaiah 35:6 for water allocation during periods of drought. The fed- nected therewith.” him…for a period of five (5) chase of replacement breed- After Wyoming became a successive years.” Wyoming ing stock.” The newly enacted eral government has also de- state, the Wyoming legislature case law requires that the non- subsection provides: veloped a number of pro- adopted a comprehensive use be voluntary to trigger ei- If the governor has de- grams to deal with water water management system. ther the abandonment or for- clared drought conditions to shortages, ranging from recla- To obtain a surface-water right feiture provisions. Thus appro- have existed in individual mation and water develop- in Wyoming, a potential wa- priators will not lose their wa- counties for not less than the ment projects to special tax ter user must obtain a permit ter rights if, because of a two immediately preceding provisions to aid agricultural- from the state engineer. Wyo- drought, there is no surface years, and if the governor de- ists. ming law does not recognize water to divert. clares that the conditions have paper water rights. The stat- During periods of short- Drought and abated, the board shall ex- utes provide that “[b]eneficial ages, senior appropriators Wyoming Law: use [is] the basis, the measure may ask the board of control ecute a program within 30 Selected Legal and limit of the right to use to enforce the prioritization days following the governor’s declaration of drought abate- Provisions. water…” Thus a surface-water system. The Wyoming Su- ment to loan agricultural pro- right is limited to the lesser of preme Court has noted that The Prior Appropriation ducers monies to defray the System and Surface the amount specified in the “[t]he right to call for an offi- costs of purchasing replace- Waters. permit or beneficially used. cial distribution of the water ment breeding stock. How- The Wyoming territorial Water rights in Wyoming of a stream in accordance with ever, the state shall not partici- legislature in 1886 adopted can be lost. For example, if a existing decrees is…a remedy pate in any loans for the pur-
  • 13. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 13chase of replacement breed- vation activities, including later than September 19, sistance to sugar beet pro- ners, members of limiteding stock as provided in this irrigation improvements, 2002. Sign-up for the LCP ducers who suffered pro- liability companies, andact that are initiated more conversion to less water- began on April 1 and is duction losses (including shareholders of S corpora-than two years following the intensive crops, and dry- scheduled to end in June quality losses), as deter- tions).governor’s declaration of land farming. 2003. Interested readers mined by the secretary, fordrought abatement. The board • Wetland Reserve Pro- should examine the USDA either the 2001 crop year Selected Bills Before theshall promulgate rules and gram: This provides tech- Web site for additional in- or the 2002 crop year, but 108th Congress.regulations to implement this nical and financial assis- formation. not both, as elected by the The current congress isprogram. tance to eligible landown- producers.” considering a number of bills • Livestock Assistance Pro- The legislation restricts ers in dealing with wetland, related to drought and agricul- gram: The act instructs the • Crop Disaster Assistanceany loan made under this sub- wildlife habitat, soil, water, ture. Wyoming Senators Craig “secretary [to] use Program: The act autho-section to no more than 70 and related natural re- Thomas and Mike Enzi intro- $250,000,000 of funds of rizes reimbursement forpercent of the cost of the source concerns on private duced Senate Bill 252 “…to the Commodity Credit Cor- producers qualifying forbreeding stock or 80 percent lands. provide special rules relating poration to establish a pro- crop losses in either 2001of the average stocking rate of • Wildlife Habitat Incen- to the replacement of livestock gram under which pay- or 2002. Sign-up will beginthe agriculture operation for tives Program (WHIP): sold on account of weather- ments are made to live- June 6 with payments tothe three years immediately This provides cost-share related conditions.” Addition- stock producers for losses begin shortly after that.preceding the declaration of payments to producers to ally, the house on March 19, in a disaster county.” Indrought by the governor. Pro- protect and restore essen- 2003, passed the “Tax Relief, establishing eligibility crite- Selected Federal Taxducers interested in taking tial plant and animal habi- Simplification, and Equity Act ria for this program, “the Provisions.advantage of this new statu- tat through agreements of 2003,” which included the secretary shall use the cri- The current federal taxtory provision should talk with with durations of at least following provisions regarding teria established to carry code contains a number of spe-their financial advisers and 15 years. Agricultural land- “replacement of involuntarily out the 1999 Livestock As- cial provisions for producersattorneys. owners thus can access a converted livestock:” sistance Program, except who receive additional income wide range of voluntary (A) IN GENERAL—In the caseDrought and Federal programs, providing cost- that, in lieu of the gross as a result of forced sales of of drought, flood, or otherLaws: Three share, land rents, incentive revenue criteria used for livestock or from crop insur- weather-related conditionsExamples payments, and technical the 1999 Livestock Assis- ance payments or livestock described in paragraph one tance Program, the secre- compensation programs trig- assistance to supplement which result in the area beingThe Farm Security and tary shall use the adjusted gered by drought. For example, designated as eligible for as-Rural Investment Act of their income and/or lessen gross income limitation livestock producers may:2002 (Farm Bill). any resource degradation sistance by the federal govern- contained in section 1001D The most recent farm bill during periods of drought. • elect to postpone gain by ment, subsection (a)(2)(B) of the Food Security Act ofcontinued and expanded on Interested readers should purchasing replacement shall be applied with respect 1985.” The total amountthe federal government’s his- consult the U.S. Depart- draft, breeding, or dairy to any converted property by eligible producers may re-toric commitment to natural ment of Agriculture Web animals within two years of substituting four years for two ceive under this programresource conservation. For ex- site or their local Natural the end of the tax year in years. will be reduced by theample, the Conservation Re- Resources Conservation which the sale occurred; (B) FURTHER EXTENSION BY amount previously ob-serve Program was reautho- Service office for additional SECRETARY—The secretary tained under earlier cov- • elect to defer additionalrized through 2007, and the information regarding may extend on a regional ba- ered livestock assistance income received from theoverall acreage cap was raised each of these programs. sis the period for replacement programs. sale of livestock because of under this section after theto 39.2 million acres. Similarly, Agricultural Assistance drought until the subse- • Weather-Related Losses application of subparagraphthe Environmental Quality In- Act of 2003. quent year, provided thecentives Program was reau- to Sugar Beet Producers: (A) for such additional time as On February 20th, Con- producer is located in a di-thorized through 2007. Other The act authorizes the sec- the secretary determines ap- gress adopted the Agricultural saster area; orconservation programs under retary to “use not more propriate if the weather-re- Assistance Act of 2003. The actthe new farm bill include: than $60,000,000 of funds • income average, using the lated conditions which re- contains a number of impor- of the Commodity Credit previous three years (avail- sulted in such application con-• Conservation of Private tant, drought-related provisions. Corporation to provide as- able for individuals, part- tinue for more than three Grazing Land Program • Livestock Compensation years. (CPGL): This provides tech- Program (LCP): The act Interested readers can nical assistance related to funds the 2002 LCP an- contact the Wyoming congres- conservation on private nounced by the secretary sional delegation to learn grazing lands to address of agriculture on October about the progress of this leg- natural resource concerns 10, 2002. The LCP is de- islation. and enhance the economic signed “to provide imme- and social stability of graz- diate financial assistance to Conclusion ing land enterprises. Several other federal laws the producers of eligible• Farmland Protection Pro- may pose challenges to Wyo- beef, dairy, buffalo, bee- gram: This provides match- ming agriculturists during pe- falo, sheep, or goats or ing funds to state, tribal, or riods of drought, including the cash lessees of eligible live- local governments and limitations of water usage un- stock in certain states and nongovernmental organi- der the Endangered Species counties to offset losses zations with existing farm- Act and proposed grazing re- due to drought.” Funds will land protection programs ductions on public lands. In be made available for “eli- to purchase conservation these and other instances, pro- gible applicants in counties easements. ducers should work with their declared under a disaster• Ground and Surface Wa- professional advisers and leg- designation made after ter Conservation Pro- islators to make sure both their January 1, 2001, or submit- gram: This authorizes cost- businesses and ways of life are ted to the secretary of ag- share payments, incentive not injured. riculture by the governor of payments, and loans to a state or a tribal leader of accomplish water conser- an Indian reservation no
  • 14. Page 14 Spring, 2003 UW College of Agriculture Drought plays critical role Management uses a meteoro- sults in less forage production Hydrologic Drought Drought Perspective logical-based definition of than expected. This definition Perspective Complications “prolonged dry weather, gen- is more complicated than A hydrologic drought is These four perspectives – erally when precipitation is simple considerations about defined as a period when sur- meteorological, agricultural, less than three-quarters of the the amount of precipitation. face and groundwater avail- hydrologic, and socio-eco- average annual amount.” The By definition it integrates the ability is inadequate to supply nomic – are frequently out of Palmer Drought Severity In- timing and amount of precipi- established uses. Therefore, phase; therefore, contradic- dex relates drought severity to tation with plant water de- this definition of drought fo- tory statements in discussions the accumulated weighted dif- mand (as can be influenced by about drought are not surpris- ferences between precipita- high temperatures and wind) ing. Differing definitions and tion and evaporation. and available soil water (as perspectives result in confu- Annual precipitation data can be influenced by the infil- sion and make it difficult for are usually skewed for arid tration capacity, soil texture, people with diverse interests and semi-arid rangelands due and soil depth). to agree about what a droughtThomas Thurow to many dry years and few There are a variety of spe- is, when it begins, and whenProfessor and Department very wet years. In such cases, cies-specific drought indexes it ends. Meteorologic droughtHead, UW Department of a statistically appropriate designed to analyze various is not directly tied to agricul-Renewable Resources method for expressing “nor- aspects of water supply and cuses attention on the drying tural drought because other mal” precipitation is to calcu- demand needed for important of streams and rivers, deple- factors – such as temperature,Charles A. Taylor, Jr. late the median (the mid-point agronomic species. These in- tion of water stored in surface wind, infiltration rate, soilProfessor, Texas Agriculture of the data set, where half of dexes, based on crop models, reservoirs and lakes, lower moisture storage capability,Experiment Station the years are wetter and half tend to characterize drought than normal accumulation of and timing of rain relative to are drier than the median intensity by emphasizing snowpack in the mountains, plant growth needs – are not value) or the mode (the available water in the topsoil and decline of ground water accounted for in the definitionPerspectives on the levels. This concept of drought of meteorologic drought butDefinition of is often used by regional plan- do make a difference in theDrought ners who are concerned with perception and consequences Much of the confusion amenities such as municipal of agricultural drought.about drought results from and/or irrigation water supply, A common worldwide as-various perspectives of how to hydro-electric power genera- sertion by users of degradeddefine it. The beginning and tion, and recreational oppor- rangeland is that droughts areend of a drought are hard to tunities. This perspective may more frequent and more se-recognize because drought is also be used by a rancher who vere than during previous gen-a gradual phenomenon. The identifies drought as when a erations. However, there iseffects of drought often accu- particular pond or stream usually no discernable differ-mulate slowly as a dry period dries up. ence in the long-term trend of the amount and temporal dis-begins and may linger after Socio-Economic tribution of precipitation and/expected rainfall patterns Drought Perspective or temperature. How canhave resumed. Most drought Not all water shortages these seemingly contradictorydefinitions are based on me- amount of precipitation most required to meet plant water are manifest in ways that im- observations be reconciled?teorological observations, ag- likely to occur). Neither of demand. This rationale con- pact people. A socio-economic Despite no widespread conclu-ricultural problems, hydrologi- these measures is particularly siders the amount of water in perspective does not recog- sive evidence that meteoro-cal conditions, and/or socio- sensitive to skewness, and the the topsoil as a critical element nize drought until it tangibly logical droughts are increas-economic considerations. interpretations of both are ex- of drought calculation because affects people’s lives in terms ing, a history of unsustainableOne’s perceptions of drought, plicit. Even if long-term cli- of the interaction of water with of their behavior and options range use causes an increasetherefore, depend on how the mate trends or cycles do ex- root growth, nutrient supplies, (water rationing, increased in the frequency and conse-nuances of these four perspec- ist, the inherent variability of and microorganism activity prices, or lost recreational op- quences of drought definedtives are blended. seasonal forecasts limits their which occurs in that zone. Dry- portunities) or depressed from an agricultural perspec-Meteorological managerial value. ing of the topsoil layer, there- earning power (in particular tive. The increase in agricul-Drought Perspective Agricultural Drought fore, is considered an early reduced agricultural income tural drought is attributable to indicator of yield loss. These which may affect the viability erosion, crusting, and/or de- Most interpretations of Perspective types of species-specific in- of the individual enterprisedrought have a meteorological graded vegetation. Many identify drought in dexes are rarely calculated for and, if severe enough, mayelement as part of the defini- The beginning and end of terms of when water deficits native forage species, but in- trickle down and adverselytion. This perspective refers to a hydrologic drought, espe- limit vegetation production. tercepted photosynthetically affect earning through othera significant decrease from the cially when viewed in terms From an agricultural perspec- active radiation data collected industries, thus increasing re-climatologically-expected pre- of large reservoir or aquifer tive, a drought occurs when by satellites are increasingly gional financial stress).cipitation. Expectations vary management, tends to lag far low soil moisture causes ex- being used to identify regionalwith location and are often site behind meteorologic drought. treme plant stress and wilting drought on rangeland.specific. The Society of Range Also, depending on the re- and lowers grain yield or re- charge system, hydrologic
  • 15. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 15in range risk management drought is less closely associ- The socio-economic risk is a more sound approach It is the responsibility of perpetuating. As erosion oc- ated with the total amount of ripple effects initiated by a to ranch management than at- an individual rancher to be curs, there is less soil moisture precipitation than with epi- water shortage make it very tempting to maximize forage aware of how much forage is storage capability and more sodic large events which gen- difficult for diverse stakehold- production and harvest effi- available and to anticipate cur- production vulnerability to in- erate significant runoff or ers to agree about when the ciency. Ranches that employ rent and future animal de- herently erratic precipitation deep drainage. Thus, a single consequences of a drought intensive grazing systems mand. By careful monitoring patterns. Rather than blaming high-intensity thunderstorm have ended. For example, a geared to maximizing harvest and control of grazing, a management problems on cli- may produce a flash flood that water shortage that reduces efficiency often encounter a rancher can quickly identify mate, the challenge to range- fills reservoirs and exceeds the crop and fodder growth may “feed drought” sooner and and respond to the beginning land scientists and policy- monthly precipitation average force ranchers to sell their live- more frequently than a ranch of a forage deficit. Adoption of makers is to intensify the re- but does little to alleviate a stock. Once livestock are sold, with lower harvest efficiency. water shortage for terrestrial it may take several years to The use of intensive grazing vegetation. Conversely, a se- build herds back to their origi- systems requires a rancher to ries of light showers may re- nal pre-drought levels. Ulti- promptly respond to devia- sult in lush plant growth but mately, a reduction in income tions from expected forage not recharge streams and may lead to the financial de- supply. Such an expectation is aquifers. mise of some enterprises, con- simply not realistic for many The socio-economic ele- tributing to migration out of ranchers since they do not ments of drought are especially the region. have the labor availability, the complicated because there is a mindset, or the ecological/fi- human expectation element Devising Risk nancial expertise to imple- involved that may or may not Management Instead ment this responsibility. be realistic. For example, the of Crisis Modern technology and demand for water may be im- Management financial structures provide possible to fulfill when regional Devising a management many self-evident benefits in economic development ex- strategy that emphasizes mini- terms of increasing the effi- pands demand beyond typi- mizing climatic and financial ciency and flexibility of range- a grazing strategy that pro- search focus on crafting and cally available supplies. Thus, land use. However, this flexibil- vides a cushion of reserve for- implementing management water availability during a dry ity can be misapplied to en- age provides ranchers some and policy tools designed to period might not be recognized able ranchers to delay making flexibility in the speed and better integrate the economic as drought in sparsely settled de-stocking decisions. As a re- extent to which they must re- and ecological aspects of areas but could result in seri- sult, decisions intended to re- spond to drought. drought-induced de-stocking ous water shortages if a large duce short-term losses can The wait-and-see man- decisions. urban population was present. actually raise the stakes by in- agement style that character- Likewise, a pastoralist who creasing long-term economic izes the majority of rangeland grazes a cattle herd may expe- and ecological risks, including use decisions in the face of rience the consequences of the possibility for catastrophic drought has a high long-term drought sooner and more fre- damage if the hoped-for rain cost, especially in terms of the quently than a pastoralist herd- does not come. irreversible costs of erosion. ing camels. The downward spiral is self-
  • 16. Page 16 Spring, 2003 UW College of Agriculture Personal and family resilience needed in Help children and • Maintaining routines and Come to terms with adolescents through connections with others. loss tough times Control anger Prolonged drought can Children are often very bring a range of losses includ- People under high levels aware of what is happening. ing loss of property, livestock, of stress can take their frustra- When adults withhold infor- financial security, expecta- tions out on themselves and mation, it can result in mixed tions, and identity as a rancher others. They can blame them- messages, confusion, and ten- or farmer. It is not surprising selves or turn their frustration sion. Children tend to imagine that people facing these diffi-Randy Weigel If stress is experienced for to others in the form of anger. culties experience loss and the worst and may think theyCooperative Extension Service long periods of time, it can are to blame. grief. It is normal to feel hope-Specialist, UW Department of result in physical, mental, or Children may hear par- lessness, sadness, shock, de-Family and Consumer emotional exhaustion or ents saying, “Everything is pression, denial, and anger.Sciences “burnout.” The following strat- fine,” but they sense the dis- Points to remember about egies may help to handle this tress on their parents’ faces grief and loss are:D rought can be just as stressful as a family cri-sis or a serious, personal ill- stress. They may also help to reduce some of the stressful, personal effects of the and in their voices. Parents should admit their concerns to • It is normal and healthy to express intense and children and involve them asness. It can leave individuals drought. painful emotions. much as possible in decision To begin to take control ofand families feeling trapped in • Grieving is important for making. Children can learn anger:a situation which is not of their healing. valuable lessons from watch- • Learn to recognize warn-making and which is beyond • Each person expresses ing how parents deal with ing signs such as muscletheir capacity to solve. grief differently. pressure and stress. They can tension and clenchedDrought doesn’t just affect • Over time, sometimes learn that painful situations fists,those who live on the land. years, the pain will lessen, can be handled and overcome. • Think before acting andThe environmental, eco- but it is normal for these Adolescents have similar consider alternative ex-nomic, and social impact af- intense emotions to resur- needs but are more suscep- planations instead offects most members of rural face occasionally. Explore financial tible to their own stress. Com- blaming, • Prolonged grief and de-communities. Some peoplefeel strengthened by their abil- options munication is even more im- • Consider the conse- pression may mean pro- Drought brings financial portant with them since finan- quences of angry confron-ity to cope, but many feel fessional help is needed. problems which, in turn, make cial decisions may impact tations,weighed down by the stress the situation more stressful. their future. With both chil- • Learn to “count to ten” Take caredrought causes. Stress can be intense when de- dren and adolescents, parents before reacting, and To cope well in stressful During difficult times, cisions must be made about need to be aware of any • Take a “time out” from the situations, people need to looksuch as drought, the frequency the use of resources, especially changes in moods, behavior, situation if needed. after themselves. If stress is al-and intensity of stress in- if the decisions involve selling friendships, and eating or Above all, people should lowed to build, such as whencreases. Stress can be dis- assets. Stress can also mount sleeping patterns. Talk with learn to express themselvesplayed in the following ways: when it seems no matter how them about the changes and calmly without losing their• Physically - Tiredness, hard one works, he or she seek help if needed. temper or fighting. A trusted headaches, fatigue, acci- dents, hypertension, keeps going backwards. Gain a sense of friend or helping professional It is helpful to discuss the chest pain, back aches, control may be able to help with this. situation with people who are upset stomach, skin trained to help. Financial Everyone responds differ- Don’t go it alone rashes, weight loss or ently to stress. Those who Although the natural incli- counselors can help assess a gain. handle stress more effectively nation is to isolate oneself in situation and make informed• Emotionally - Irritability, have a realistic sense of their times of crisis, it is one of the many stressful events occur and correct decisions. Since nervousness, anxiety, limits and an ability to challenge worst things to do. Research together, the body can be af- the financial situation involves mood swings, guilt, fear, their reactions to situations and shows that people with strong fected and health, decision- the whole family, it is also im- anger, depression, insom- keep a positive outlook. connections to families, making capacity, and personal portant to involve everyone in nia, confusion, forgetful- One can start to develop friends, and their community relations can suffer. discussions. One of the first ness, negative attitude, a sense of control by: cope best in times of crisis. To help cope with stress: things a family needs to do is apathy, poor concentra- prioritize and decide what • Not overreacting to a Social support is important • Become aware of stress tion. constitutes essentials and problem, because it reduces the sense levels.• Behaviorally - With- what are extras. Then a fam- • Becoming aware of nega- of isolation, lessens depres- • Take time out for relax- drawal, isolation, over- ily can budget for important tive self-talk (I’ll never sur- sion and anxiety, and provides ation and fun. working, violence, blam- things such as a mortgage, vive this, I won’t make it), a network of people who can • Make sure to eat and sleep ing, nagging, aggression, health costs, utilities, and food • Replacing negative self- listen and offer support. well. arguing, alcohol/drug and delay or eliminate non- talk with realistic self-talk • Keep involved with sports, abuse. essential items. But don’t (I’ve been through tough hobbies, or other diver- make snap decisions—discuss times before, I’m not a quit- sionary activities. ideas and seek advice. ter), and
  • 17. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 17face of drought thought to be mental illness, but it is not. Mental health is just that—HEALTH. Avoid sweeping problems under the rug, burying them inside, or pretending that they will magi- cally go away because most • Limit the use of alcohol likely they will not. (For more and prescription or non- information on seeking pro- prescription drugs. fessional help or surviving • Exercise daily to relieve tragedies, see the Personal tension. Options suggested to manage Nature of Agriculture series at: • Don’t let the crisis com- www.uwyo.edu/ces/FAMILY/ pletely dominate daily LIFE/LIFE_Main.html.) lawns during drought life. When resilient individuals (For more information on and families suffer from the coping with stress, see the Uni- effects of drought, they may versity of Wyoming Coopera- tive Extension Service Agricul- cry, get angry, and become By Tom Heald better way is to calibrate water systems to depressed—but they are not UW Cooperative Extension Service Educator, meet the needs of a healthy, robust root sys- ture Producers and Stress series broken. They adopt the atti- Natrona County tem. First let the lawn go into drought stress at: www.uwyo.edu/ces/FAM- tude, “Anyone can give up…but so that the grass does not spring back when ILY/LIFE/LIFE_Main.html.) only the STRONG will continue T hroughout most of Wyoming, lawns are the highest water-consuming plants in landscapes. A lawn is probably sprinkled walked on and when footprints remain. Then it is time to water for about 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, use a shovel and a enough over the course of a growing season ruler to dig a spadeful of the lawn to mea- so that it receives 36 inches or more water sure how far the water has seeped into the than what Mother Nature provides. In times ground. Repeat this process to determine the of drought, there are several management time it takes to water to a depth of 12 inches. options that can save water and still main- Repeat this process for each water station or tain or improve a lawn’s health. area in the yard. Once the time it takes to water to 12 inches is calculated, that time will Management Option 1: Raise never change. Most lawns can get by with the lawn mower cutting height being watered once every 7 to 14 days in the Have a consistent mowing height of at spring and fall and once every 3 to 7 days in least 3 to 4 inches. Taller grass has the ability the heat of summer. to double its production of carbohydrates through photosynthesis. The net result is a Management Option 3: Limit stronger grass plant. This translates into a fertilization Seek help if needed to battle.” They embrace the more robust root system, one that can toler- Contrary to ads on TV, fertilizer is not For some people, the crisis. Why would someone ate periods of drought more effectively than plant food like sunlight via photosynthesis is, stress of coping with drought want to embrace a crisis? It one cut short. Wyoming’s Kentucky bluegrass but fertilizer does stimulate plants to grow may trigger a psychological ill- teaches people how strong is considered a cool-season grass, growing by providing nitrogen. Bluegrass needs abun- ness. Times of crisis such as they are and how strong they best in the spring and again in the fall. By dant amounts of water for growth when drought result in a higher inci- can become. One might not raising the cutting height of a lawnmower, stimulated with fertilizer. Therefore, time-re- dence of anxiety, depression, be the same person after a one can effectively shade the growing point lease or slow-release fertilizers are recom- and potential suicide. This is crisis, but he or she can choose of the grass (located at ground level) and re- mended. Such fertilizers release nitrogen not surprising considering the to be stronger. duce evaporation from the surface of the soil. slowly over time so that large amounts of prolonged stress and how little Ranching and farming as In the heat of summer, a tall lawn will toler- water are not needed all at once. Restrict fer- control people feel they have a way of life offer many chal- ate high temperatures much better than a tilization during the hottest part of summer over the situation. If anxiety lenges for individuals and short lawn and suffer less moisture loss. when high heat, high water consumption, and or depression becomes dis- families—hard work, financial evaporation cause problems. abling or there is a risk of vio- risks, and continued demands. Management Option 2: Water By incorporating these three manage- lence or suicide, seek profes- How individuals within a deeply but infrequently ment options into a lawn plan, it is possible sional help. ranch or farm family and the The roots of Bluegrass can grow to a to save about 20 to 25 percent of water use “Going for professional family itself approach those depth of about 12 inches provided there is and still have an attractive lawn. help beats the hell out of the hell challenges determines the soil moisture available. If a lawn is watered Some people are not watering their lawns the family goes through after a degree to which the family about 15 minutes every other day, soil mois- at all, either by choice or necessity. How long family member commits suicide survives and thrives. ture probably does not go beyond 2 to 3 can an unwatered lawn survive? Bluegrass or homicide.” inches into the soil. Such a watering style is lawns can sometimes spring back after an It’s unfortunate that for ineffective and promotes shallow rooting. A entire season without water. many people mental health is
  • 18. Page 18 Spring, 2003 UW College of AgricultureClimatic history traces roots of droughtJan CurtisWyoming State Climatologist,Water Resources Data SystemDirectorT he most recent statewide drought that began in ear-nest in the spring of 2000 inWyoming and parts of theNorthern High Plains is consid-ered by many to be the most Figure 2.severe in their collectivememory. However, some old-timers have indicated that theyremember streams drying up This does not mean that no longer than six months.in the 1930s and 1950s. Ac- droughts cannot occur in iso- However, below-normal pre-cording to instrument records lation of other river basins. In cipitation has been known tosince 1895, there have been fact, Wyoming and the north- last up to 16 straight months.only seven multi-year (three ern high plains average severe All Wyoming climate divisions Figure 3.years or longer) statewide or extreme drought conditions having monthly precipitationdroughts in Wyoming. Based generally 10 to 20 percent of deficits at the same time oc- ing the second half of the cen- the lowest percentiles in south-on deficit precipitation totals, the time. These numbers can cur about 17 percent of the tury, there was an increasing ern Wyoming, northwesternthey are ranked as follows: nearly double if all drought time during any dry or wet trend for increased periods of South Dakota and westernDrought Deficit levels are considered (mild to season. While an entire year drought (Figure 4). Nebraska. Real-time stream-(from annual precipitation) exceptional). can have a net precipitation The six parameters used flow data cannot be calculated1952-1956 94% Between 7 to 8 percent of deficit, it is rare that every to determine drought are soil in winter since rivers are fro-1987-1990 61% the time, a meteorological month during that year has moisture, stream flow, moun- zen. However, the latest1958-1964 77% drought (less than 75 percent below-normal precipitation. tain snow pack (snow-water streamflow forecast for this1931-1936 61% of normal precipitation for less During the past three equivalent), reservoir levels, spring and summer calls for1999-2002 76% than three months) is occur- years, precipitation departures ground-water levels, and pre- below-normal conditions (Fig-1974-1977 41% ring within a climate division, from the norm show the mag- cipitation forecast. As shown ures 5 and 6).1900-1903 72% and generally between 80 to nitude of the current drought below, the soil moisture is at 90 percent of these events last in Wyoming and the pan- The worst multi-year handle of Nebraska as havingdroughts by climate divisions lost at least 75 percent of itsare listed in the table below: annual precipitation. The northern high plains have faired better (Figure 3). Figure 1. As a whole, Wyoming’s Wyoming Climate precipitation record from Divisions 1895-2002 reveals that for the used in the first half of the 20th century table below. except during the turn of the century and dust bowl years of the 1930s there was gener- ally a surplus of moisture. Dur- Figure 4. Greatest Total Deficit (per drought) Greatest Average Annual Deficit (of drought) Annual percentage Annual percentage per year CD1: 1931-1936 -116 1998-2002 -21 Yellowstone CD2: 1987-1992 -106 1958-1962 -21 Snake/Salt CD3: 1999-2002 -122 1988-1990 -34 Bear/Green CD4: 1948-1956 -211 1933-1936 -25 Big Horn CD5: 1959-1961 -79 1959-1961 -26 Powder-Tongue CD6: 1930-1940 -180 1952-1954 -21 Belle Fourche CD7: 1958-1961 -96 1958-1961 -24 Cheyenne CD8: 1999-2002 -127 1999-2002 -32 Lower N. Platte CD9: 1979-1990 -229 1999-2002 -24 Wind River Figure 5. CD10: 1952-1956 -114 1952-1956 -23 Upper N. Platte
  • 19. UW College of Agriculture Spring, 2003 Page 19 March 31, 2003, Water-Supply Conditions Reservoir Elevation Content 30-Year Average Seminoe 6316.52 421,463 500,500 During the Pathfinder 5823.80 548,400 727,000 past three Alcova 5488.20 156,493 159,100 Glendo 4622.25 379,536 431,000 years, Guernsey 4406.07 17,634 22,200 precipitation October through March Inflows departures Reservoir Inflow (KAF) Percent of Average Seminoe 113.1 58 from the norm Pathfinder (Sweetwater) 45.6 121 show the Alcova to Glendo Gain 43.5 55 Glendo to Guernsey Gain 6.4 59 magnitude of the current April 1, 2003, Snowmelt Runoff Forecast Forecasts of April to July runoff were prepared for the following forecast points in the North Platte Basin: drought inFigure 6. Most Probable Percent of Wyoming and Forecast Point Inflow Average Snow pack, while the bestin four winters (as of mid- cast of above normal tempera- tures and below normal pre- North Platte River above the panhandle Seminoe 600,000 AF 79March 2003), is expected to cipitation during March anddecrease quickly with a fore- April (Figure 7). Sweetwater River above of Nebraska as Pathfinder 40,000 AF 58 Alcova to Glendo Reach 100,000 AF 71 having lost at least 75 Kendrick ownership was March 31, 2003, which was ap- 767,694 acre feet (AF) on March 31, 2003, and approximately 79 proximately 57 percent of the average (150,600 AF). This percent of its percent of the average (969,400 compares to the 146,800 AF of AF), which compares to the Glendo ownership on this date annual ownership of 980,100 AF last last year. year at this date. The March 31, Flows in the Miracle Mile precipitation. 2003, North Platte (Pathfinder below Kortes Dam are ap- and Guernsey) ownership to- proximately 545 cubic feet per taled 161,444 AF, which was ap- second (cfs). Releases from proximately 23 percent of the Gray Reef Reservoir are at 450Figure 7. average (687,000 AF). This cfs. The level of Alcova Reser- compares to the 363,500 AF of voir is at the normal winter op- North Platte ownership on this erating range of 5488 plus oneReservoir and Water Supplies date last year. The North Platte foot. Beginning April 1, Alcova ownership was the lowest Reservoir will be increased1. Water-Supply Conditions of the North Platte March ownership of record back during the month to its sum- River Basin (percent full) to water year 1961. The Glendo mer operating range of 5,498 ownership was 85,918 AF on plus one foot by April 30. Percent/Reservoir Elevation Content Storage Average 2. March 31, 2003 Water Supply Conditions of the Seminoe 6290.63 212,696 21 42 Big Horn Basin (percent full)Pathfinder 5807.80 365,673 36 50 The release from Buffalo river gage. The release from Alcova 5488.96 158,212 86 99 Bill Dam is approximately Boysen Dam is approximately Glendo 4615.59 319,370 61 74 100 cfs, which with the addi- 300 cfs and will be main- tion of flow from the springs tained at this release until an Guernsey 4405.52 16,798 36 76 results in a flow of approxi- increase is needed for irriga- mately 172 cfs at the Cody tion.
  • 20. Page 20 Spring, 2003 UW College of Agriculture Percent/ Reservoir Elevation Content Storage Average Bull Lake 5763.92 44,556 29 55 Boysen 4697.97 345,821* 47 69 Buffalo Bill 5357.64 384,063 59 101 Pilot Butte 5453.50 28,093 83 114*Storage in Boysen Reservoir was the second lowest on record (1953-2002) for the end of March.March 31, 2002, Water-Supply Conditions Reservoir Elevation Content 30-Year Average Bull Lake 5755.73 28,625 81,400 Boysen 4695.91 323,770 503,100 Buffalo Bill 5341.45 287,463 380,600** Pilot Butte 5454.45 28,887 24,700** The average used for Buffalo Bill Reservoir reflects data from1993 through 2002. In 1992, the capacity of the reservoir was in- Figure 8.creased to approximately 646,565 AF as a result of raising the dam.A long-term average cannot be calculated until several years of op-eration occur under the increased storage. Climate ChangeOctober through March Inflows Despite recent reports from the Intergovernmental Reservoir Inflow (KAF) Percent of Average Panel on Climate Change Bull Lake 11.6 71 (IPCC) that several General Circulation Models (GCM) pre- Boysen 216.1 76 dict temperature increases Buffalo Bill 80.2 73 greater than 6 degrees F dur- ing the next 100 years due to increased greenhouse gasApril 1, 2003, Snowmelt Runoff Forecast emissions (i.e., CO2), the Wyo-Forecasts of April to July runoff were prepared for the following ming and northern high plainsforecast points in the Bighorn Basin: have not experienced large annual changes in tempera- Most Probable Percent of ture or precipitation during the Forecast Point Inflow Average past five to six decades with Buffalo Bill Reservoir 650,000 AF 96 the exception of North Dakota (temperature) and central Boysen Reservoir 450,000 AF 75 South Dakota (precipitation). Bull Lake Reservoir 130,000 AF 92 It has been found that in a four-year period, increased Wind River above Bull Lake variability in rainfall, although Creek 380,000 AF 89 resulting in the same long- term average amounts, does3. Flushing Flows Below Gray Reef Dam impact the ecosystem in two ways. First, the grassland bio- The Bureau of Reclama- droughts, the water table will mass is reduced with fewertion in cooperation with the fall even if water consumption precipitation events and withWyoming Game and Fish De- is constant. It can take any- greater rainfall amounts perpartment conducted a series where from one to 1,000 years event as compared with more Figure 9.of flushing flows in the North for surface water to make it events with lesser rainfallPlatte River below Gray Reef back to an aquifer. Studies in- amounts per event. Second,Dam from March 17 through dicate that only 3 to 5 percent plant species’ diversity in-March 21, 2003. The flows in of annual precipitation ever creased. Thus, these findingsthe river below Gray Reef Dam makes it into an aquifer. Of suggest that the prairie canwere rapidly increased from course the water table falls exhibit rapid changes to its450 cfs to 4,000 cfs between during drought because sur- biodiversity even though the3 and 7 a.m., with the flows face water becomes scarce climate rainfall totals do notagain being reduced to 450 cfs and demand for water goes up show long-term trends. Figureby 10 a.m. After completing due to higher evaporation and 10 shows the inter-seasonalthe flushing flow on March 21, plant requirements (evapo- precipitation during the criti-2003, the flows were stabilized transpiration). cal April to June time frame.at approximately 450 cfs for Finally, the drought as- Note that most of the north-the rest of the month. sessment through the end of ern plains can experience up Ground water, used by June 2003 shows continued to 70 percent variation be-municipalities and agriculture, drought over much of the tween the highest 20 and low-is the most important source western states (see Figure 8). est 20 percentiles.of fresh water. During Figure 10.