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Coping With Drought

             Being a farmer in drought conditions can be very hard at times. Farmers cannot predict a drought or even stop a drought. Drought causes crop failure, limited use of water, wind erosion, and many other problems. However, there are some ways a farmer can get by these conditions if he or she uses their agricultural experiences.
             Moisture is the single most limiting factor to crop yields. Tillage techniques conserve moisture to increasing crop yields and limits the consequences of drought. Tillage has been the traditional way to prepare seedbeds and control weeds (Sirios 1). To conserve moisture, the kind of tillage and the number of tillage operations affects the amount of moisture remaining following tillage and the ability of the soil surface to attract and store additional moisture (Sirios 1). The greatest moisture loss is usually experienced during the first field trip. However, additional trips result in more extensive drying in that field. Moisture loss from tillage is especially important during dry springs, when the seedbed may dry out and result in poor germination if rainfall does not rewet the seed. Spring tillage should be shallow to limit moisture loss and allow planting in moist soil. Fall tillage influences the amount of snow catch, which is important in many years to help recharge soil moisture after a previously dry summer and fall. Snow catch is influenced by surface roughness, but mostly by stubble height. Leaving stubble and stubble height are especially important for increasing moisture over the winter (Sirios 1). .
             Dry spring conditions have a measurable effect on all crops, most notable poor germination and seeding emergence resulting in poor stands. The poor crop condition presents growers with two options, leaving the crop or replanting it with the same or different crop (Sirios 1). In almost all situations leaving the crop is the best answer. Any established plants have the advantage of a developed root system that can access subsoil moisture and have the greatest chance of producing a crop.

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