A big worry for the new year is if 2012 drought conditions will continue into 2013. So South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension is partnering with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension to host a five-part webinar series with the focus of helping ranchers prepare for that possibility.

Entitled "Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch," the series is designed to provide ranchers with the tools they need to set critical trigger dates, and begin to develop a long-term management plan. The meetings are also intended to educate professionals and consultants who work with ranchers as a professional development series, says Kalyn Waters, SDSU Extension cow-calf field specialist.

The webinars will be presented the last Wednesday of each month beginning Jan. 30 and conclude in May. The one-hour webinars will begin at 9 a.m. MST or 10 a.m. CST at the SDSU Extension Regional Centers. Each session will include current drought updates, forecasts and presentations about specific information or tools.

Following each webinar, the regional centers will join together via video conference for a question-and-answer session where SDSU Extension state and field specialists will provide additional information relevant to South Dakota producers.

Topics each month will consider drought planning information and tools available to producers. In addition to university and Extension presenters, a number of ranchers will also be featured. These ranchers will describe the development and execution of their drought management plans.

The topic of the Jan. 30 webinar is “Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch: The Planning Process.” The keynote speaker of the meeting will be Jerry Volesky, UNL Range and Forage Specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center.

"Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch is a program that has been put together by range professionals and ranchers with instruction for developing individualized plans that includes ways ranchers can better prepare for and respond to drought. The first webinar will provide an overview of the different steps in putting together that drought plan," said Voleksy.

Here are the scheduled dates and topics for the series:

  • Jan. 30 – Managing drought risk on the ranch: The planning process.
  • Feb. 27 – Avoiding analysis paralysis: Monitoring and setting critical dates for decision making during drought
  • March 27 – The new cumulative forage reduction (CFR) index: Assessing drought impacts and planning a grazing strategy
  • April 24 – Using a drought calculator to assist stocking decisions
  • May 29 – Economic factors to weigh in making decisions during drought

These meetings are sponsored by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The series was developed with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Learn more about the webinar series at http://drought.unl.edu/ranchplan/Overview.aspx. For more information on the South Dakota component, visit www.igrow.org, contact your local SDSU Extension Regional Center, or call Waters at the SDSU Extension Regional Center in Winner at 605-842-1267