Response to Crop Producers Experiencing Severe Summer Drought

Stephen K. Barnhart, Faculty, Agronomy

Problem Statement:  

An extended mid-summer (2006) rainfall deficit in 10 west-central and northwest Iowa counties led to severe crop stress in multi-county areas.  Producers in the most drought-stricken areas were faced with non-economic yield potentials for their pastures, hay, corn, and in some cases, their soybean crops.  Unexpected crop failures such as these require direct and often unfamiliar crop management decisions.  An Iowa State University Extension program was planned and implemented to address some of the management challenges facing producer clientele.
Programmatic Response: 

Dr. Barnhart, in his position as ISUE Forage Programs specialist, contributed to the efforts of a team of campus-based Crop Production, Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine specialists to support a series of producer meetings scheduled and conducted by County Extension Directors and multi-county Field Crop Production and Protection Specialists. The objective of the effort was to address management alternatives for affected clientele.

Activities / Outputs:

Two meetings were held in the affected communities, and individual requests and discussions were conducted through numerous telephone and Email contacts. Program efforts included the demonstration of quick, qualities tissue nitrate tests on corn plants brought to meetings by producer participants, interpretation of the diagnostic results, and the discussion of a number of alternative livestock feed and crop management strategies that affected producers could use in their individual farm situations. A discussion on producer responsibility and possible benefits from crop insurance, pasture and hay management guidelines and nutritional and feeding options were provided for successfully managing livestock through the drought period.  Extension staff provided applicable management fact sheets and assistance for contacting ISU Extension staff for individualized crop and livestock management help.  State, multi-county Field, and local County Extension staff also contributed similar information to the print and broadcast media for broader mass communication.

Impact / Outcomes: 

Over 300 producers were direct recipients of program information at the producer meetings, as well as innumerable indirect contacts as a result of the meeting and follow up communication efforts. Programs such as these are intended to minimize panicky and irrational responses by clientele.  Conditions are not always as bad as they first appear, as was the case with the drought areas of 2006.  Having been provided practical alternatives, producers in the area generally made good choices. There were no emergency livestock liquidations as a result of the weather stresses, and livestock nutrition and health problems were averted.

July 2007
100  Corn and Soybean Production & Protection

Page last updated: August 2, 2007
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