click image to zoomAlfalfa in bloom. One hundred percent of cropland in Nevada is irrigated, and more than 90 percent of it is used to produce hay, making the drought a real challenge for Nevada farmers. As drought becomes more and more severe in the west, farmers, ranchers and the general public are needing to react more than ever before in the way that they operate businesses and live. Education seems like a natural for the Cooperative Extension services that today reach out to rural and urban populations with their programs.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is stepping up and being a leader as it has partnered with other agencies to help Nevadans prepare for and cope with the drought that is in progress. Extension service launched its Living With Drought website, a one-stop shop where homeowners, gardeners, farmers, ranchers, natural resource managers and others can find information to help them respond to their various drought-related challenges. The website is at http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/drought/.
“We want to be proactive,” Mark Walker, dean of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, said. “We know that our offices in every county are going to be getting questions—everything from how to maintain lawns, to how to irrigate crops most efficiently during the drought. So, we have compiled information and links for various groups, and tried to make it easy for them to find.”
Cooperative Extension chose to take the lead in helping Nevadans cope with the drought because many of its six educational program areas, including agriculture, horticulture, natural resources and community development, will be directly affected by the drought, it was noted in the announcement.
Walker noted that there has been information spread among a wide range of sources on how to deal with different aspects of a drought and for different audiences but no composite site with information and links. It would appear that this “Living With Drought” site is overdue for Nevada and other states with drought issues. It ties into the Extension service’s “Living With Fire” education program previously established.
“Wildfires and drought are both facts of life in Nevada. It’s not a question of if they will occur; it’s a question of when they will occur,” Walker said. “These programs are aimed at minimizing their detrimental effects and the danger they can pose.”
As part of the Living With Drought effort, Cooperative Extension is also offering workshops in the state to give Nevada agricultural producers and ranchers information to help them prepare for the drought. Topics will include water availability, recommended irrigation practices, insurance options and an outlook on prices.