It Is Dry Out There

Still setting at 4.47 inches for the past 10 months on the home place. The photo below depicts the current conditions very vividly. Well-planned grazing operations are suffering along with all others, and it is difficult to look forward to the future in this dismal state. When hoping for a good rain to brighten the rancher’s perspective, looking at this same photo reveals two different scenarios.

First zoom in, look closely at the right-hand side, and think what will happen when that long hoped for rain does come. Very little grass or forage of any kind is to be found, no litter of old decaying grasses are available to slow water flow and shade the soil. The slick-compacted soil surface will absorb little of the rainfall unless it is a very slow rainfall event. While the rain will be a welcome benefit to this rangeland most of that precious water will run off taking valuable soil with it and what little does not will be quickly lost to evaporation.

Now look at the lift-hand side. While not what one would hope for, there are standing grass plants that show to have some vigor despite the drought, ground litter is present, and if one zooms in even further, he can see that the soil surface is chipped and broken. (Animal impact) allowing for quicker soil absorption of the rainfall. Even some Texas Croton is present although very small, certainly it is a positive that it is present and sadly is not on the other side of the fence. When the rain does come the left side is much better prepared to capitalize on the wetting event.

Grazing management utilizing a well-planned graze-rest program on a continuing basis is by far the best approach to minimizing the devastating effects of drought. Yes, the height left of the grasses after grazing is critical, but under these conditions many times that is foreshadowed by the devastating drought conditions.


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