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Drought management training

By Retta Bruegger and Todd Ballard, CSU Extension

Colorado State University CSU Extension, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Climate Hub, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and other organizations, recently completed a five-part series on drought management with an in-person workshop outside of Fort Morgan at the Riverview Event Center.

This event covered drought planning for agricultural operations, as well as a workshop on stress management and mental health, provided by AgWell, a new program out of Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union. Participants of the in-person training received the “train the trainer” portion of the Changing our Mental and Emotional Trajectory “COMET” training from AgWell instructor Clinton Wilson.

The intent of the workshop was to increase capacity among those who work in agriculture or ag-adjacent organization and entities, so they are better prepared to plan for and manage well in drought.



The in-person workshop was preceded by a four-part webinar series, that covered topics such: using forecasts in drought planning, risk management in drought, drought management strategies for livestock and range, and drought management strategies for cropping systems. Contributions to the webinars from northeast region extension staff included a discussion of in-field water conservation by Ron Meyer and Using a Partial Budgeting Tool/Evaluating Tradeoffs by Brent Young. The in-person seminar included a cropping systems drought decision discussion facilitated by Todd Ballard.

The drought outlook forecasts that drought conditions will continue through the spring. “While drought conditions are not within our control, how we manage for those conditions is something we can influence,” said co-organizer, Retta Bruegger. “This course was designed to increase the toolbox to manage well in drought.” A contributing factor to the drought outlook is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast for a 53% chance of La Niña conditions continuing until at least August (PowerPoint Presentation (noaa.gov)). The March 17 rain/snow mix throughout much of eastern Colorado improved the outlook for this year’s wheat crop. But we need to remain vigilant of the drought projection.



As far as next steps, the group will launch a program in summer 2022, that provides incentives for producers who make a written drought plan. For more information on drought planning or the upcoming incentives program, contact Retta Bruegger, Ron Meyer, or Todd Ballard.


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