Developing Effective Drought Monitoring Tools for Farmers and Ranchers in the South Central U.S.

Eastern New Mexico; by Katharine Hayhoe
Project Summary

The South Central U.S. is one of the main agricultural regions in North America: annual agricultural production is valued at more than $44 billion dollars. However, as climate conditions change, the region is experiencing more frequent and severe droughts, with significant impacts on agriculture and broader consequences for land management. This project investigated the information needs of farmers, ranchers, and local land managers in the South Central region to develop drought monitoring tools that are effective and responsive to their needs. Several drought indicators were evaluated for their effectiveness and compared to responses from a regional survey on commonly-used drought indicators, impacts, and management strategies. A new indicator based on soil moisture was explored as an option for drought management. All indicators were compared to crop yields to assess variability among indicators and types of applications, recognizing that a single drought indicator may not be most appropriate for all applications.

Research support from: South Central Climate Science Center

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