Farmers and ranchers step up with innovative drought resilience strategies |

Farmers and ranchers step up with innovative drought resilience strategies

Colorado Ag Water Alliance

When asked to propose innovative drought resilience projects last fall, Colorado farmers and ranchers stepped up. Thirty projects distributed across the state have been selected to receive financial and technical support with funding the Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance obtained from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and private donors.

Michael Lobato, one of the selected producers, said “the urgent need to conserve western water has inspired me to test a novel method to increase soil water holding capacity.”

Other applicants were motivated by the desire to address water challenges they are experiencing on their own operations. 

A total of $375,000 will be distributed to implement the projects, which include developing new irrigation technologies and strategies, planting less thirsty crops, using innovative soil amendments, and restoring wet meadows to improve rangeland. Each project will be assessed for its impact on water use as well as other metrics related to resilience, such as soil health and profitability.

You can see the distribution of projects and read descriptions of each one on a web-based map at To get more details about particular projects or to get in touch with the masterminds behind them, contact Greg Peterson at CAWA (720) 244-4629,

The drought resilience program was designed to provide seed funding to support early-stage projects with the potential to reduce water use, improve water management, and/or demonstrate drought resilience and adaptation. Project Manager Greg Peterson explained that “the end-goal is to identify projects that can be scaled up to a level that can help keep Colorado agriculture as healthy and productive as possible under the hotter, drier conditions that have become more common in the region.”

Hannah Holm, with the environmental organization American Rivers, sees benefits for rivers in these projects. “If farms and ranches can thrive while using less water, that will reduce the instances of warm, low streamflows that are really tough on fish,” she said. Aaron Derwingson, with The Nature Conservancy, sees benefits for everyone in the region. “These projects represent the culture of innovation that we need to thrive, not just survive, with the water supplies we have.”

A robust group of partners, including Colorado Cattleman’s Association, Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Wilson Water Group, Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, Colorado Pork Producers Council, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Grand Valley Water Users Association, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and Colorado Master Irrigator all came together to support the program and select the most promising projects.

Details on the program can be found at  For more information contact: