Three years of drought conditions have taken a significant toll on plant health and growth in northwestern Iowa. Since July 2020 to the present, this part of the state has battled dry pastures, while also dealing with rising costs for supplemental feed, like corn, hay and creep.
Recognizing the need to assist producers, a team of specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach organized three different pasture, hay and forage meetings centrally located in areas rated as extreme or exceptional drought.
Meetings were held at Pocahontas, Mapleton, and Le Mars in December 2022, addressing the issue and helping farmers apply for USDA Livestock Forage Assistance.
Forty producers and allied agribusiness professionals attended the meetings. Twenty-five percent of participants stated they increased their knowledge about Pasture, Range and Forage Insurance, Livestock Forage Disaster Assistance, and the Livestock Indemnity Program. One producer commented, “I didn’t even know there was a Livestock Indemnity Program.”
Eighteen percent are considering insurance on pastureland in 2023 year, which will help them financially if the drought continues. Eight participants (25%) learned about interseeding, and 21% intend to thicken the plant stand with frost seeding or overseeding, which is less expensive than a new seeding. Five (18%) plan to soil sample and use these results to determine how much fertilizer to apply – another cost saving practice.
The meetings helped drought-stricken Iowans network and better understand their options and plan for recovery. Resources were shared with nine counties: Buena Vista, Calhoun, Ida, Monona, O’Brien, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Webster and Woodbury.
“Drought education benefits both the cow-calf producer and the consumer,” said Leah Ten Napel, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach in northwestern Iowa. “Drought education enables producers to maintain animal inventory, which stabilizes the supply of beef in the grocery store and ultimately prevents dramatic fluctuations in the price of beef.”