Courtesy of http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NE

It’s no secret that 2017 is proving to be a dry growing season for producers across Nebraska and the upper Midwest. The dry conditions have been marked by pockets of heavy rainfall in isolated areas, resulting in an overall decrease in the corn crop condition. The percent of corn rated at good to excellent fell four percentage points in the Cornhusker state in July.

As producers continue the irrigation battle in their fields, the resources and tools available to them to aid in the fight are growing each day. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s very own National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) is dedicated to helping farmers and institutions develop and implement measure to reduce vulnerability to drought conditions. Overall, the NDMC stresses the importance of preparedness and risk management.

In order to achieve their mission, the NDMC maintains a flourishing and continually growing website, actively engages in drought monitoring—helping the US Drought monitor with its preparations—and has developed the US Drought Impact Reporter: a set of web-based drought management decision making tools.

Their latest venture is QuickDRI, the Quick Drought Response Index, a new weekly early warning system that purports to be sensitive to the earliest-stage drought conditions and rapidly evolving drought events.

The index combines and analyzes four main drought indicators: Precipitation, soil moisture, vegetation health, and evaporative moisture loss from plants. By taking these four main variables into account, they allow producers and crop analysts to better understand the extent of drought conditions before most traditional monitoring methods.

Lead operations contact Jesslyn Brown claims that QuickDRI fills a gap in drought monitoring, owing to its sensitivity to detect short-term changes.

“We expect it to be especially helpful for decisions related to irrigation and fire management,” explains Brown.

More importantly, though, is that QuickDRI will help to improve the US Drought monitor. In turn, the allocation of relief dollars from the USDA Farm Service Agency will be able to be allocated more quickly, and to those in need of the relief most.

While preparedness cannot make rain fall from the sky, it can help to alleviate the stress that can come from inadequate moisture. Producers implementing the latest soil-moisture technology may rest easier knowing exactly what’s occurring under the soil, and having access to highly accurate drought monitoring is yet another tool in producers’ arsenal.

Until it starts raining again, farmers and ranchers agree that it’s good to know that researchers at UNL are in their corner, forging ahead with new ways to see under the soil and help improve their operations.

UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. If you have questions about yields and productivity on your rented farmland, give the UFARM managers contact us today!

Sources consulted: NDMC. National Drought Mitigation Center. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Web. 27 Jul. 2017.  Richter-Ryerson, Shawna. “Warning System Gets the Early Drop on Drought.” Nebraska Today. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 12 Jul. 2017. Web. 27 Jul. 2017.