The drought was very much on the mind of persons attending the 2014 World Ag Expo. But drought has almost become a way of life for farmers all across the American West, says Netafim USA’s John Vikupitz.
While the focus has been on the situation in California, Vikupitz, president and CEO of Netafim, said people should know the drought is extending across most of the western United States in some form or another.
“The U.S. government rates drought severity on a scale of one to five with five being exceptional, and most of California is in an exceptional drought right now” he noted. “Of the 11 western states, there are only three that are not in some form of severe or exceptional drought.
“So this is not just a California phenomenon we’re seeing.”
In cases where farmers feel like they have a reasonable and secure access to water long-term, they are investing in drip or micro-irrigation as a way to spread more water across existing farmland and improve yields as much as possible.
“The bad part of the current situation is that many growers who don’t have a feeling that they have a secure access to water are fallowing land or not farming land at all because they’re not sure if they’re going to have enough water to even operate,” says Vikupitz.
Producers on the High Plains, who have been battling moisture shortages for years, have been trying drip tape and are finding they can improve yields as are growers in the so-called Rain Belt who have seen much higher yields. The winner of this year’s NCGA National Corn Yield Contest harvested 454 bushels of corn per acre using a drip system.
Vikupitz was also following a good new/bad news situation for farmers. The good news: Congress passed a new farm bill that includes Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding for more efficient irrigation systems. The bad news: The funding may not be available in time for High Plains growers who were hoping to use the funding to help pay for drip systems in their operations.
To read more about California’s drought, click on http://westernfarmpress.com/irrigation/californias-drought-has-far-reaching-impacts