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UT offers local farmers help with drought response

Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

According to the rain gauge at Tims Ford Reservoir, Moore County has not seen significant rain (more than an inch) in more than a month. Moore County got just 2.33 inches during the month of June and has registered 0.05 an inch so far in July.

Moore County’s crops are withering and pastures are turning to dust – impacting local farmers now and in the fall with reduced harvest and short livestock feed inventories. This year’s unusually hot weather recently prompted the University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension (UT Extension) to launch resources for area farmers and ranchers to combat the historic hot and dry weather.

In response to the public’s need for timely information, UT Extension has collected and cross-linked existing drought- and heat-related informational resources on a public access website.  Farmers will have direct access online to information that can help them make the critical and sometimes heart-wrenching decisions necessary to keep their operations and families financially viable.  The information available is specific to Tennessee production systems.

As of last Friday, the website will be available to the public on a 24-hour basis. There is no charge to access the information online.

It gives information on stretching hay supplies, livestock heat stress, planned herd culling, alternative livestock watering systems, nitrate toxicity and other drought related topics.

Dr. Justin Rhinehart, UT Extension beef cattle specialist, is coordinating the effort, which includes livestock specialists, plant and pest specialists, veterinarians, family science experts, environmental engineers, horticulturists, and forestry and wildlife experts from across the state.  Additional links are provided to resources available from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, including a hay directory for producers struggling to provide feed for livestock.

The information collected on the pages is also relevant for everyday citizens and homeowners. “Some of the linked information includes tips on reducing power usage during extreme heat and lawn and garden management during drought,” Rhinehart said.  “There are even links relevant to working with kids and heat stress in the elderly.”

Dr. Rhinehart will also coordinate a series of local livestock producer meetings to address the increasing dire situation of the state’s forage and pastures. In middle Tennessee, the meeting will be held on July 17 at the Tennesser Farm Bureau Building in Columbia and on July 19 at the Wilson County Fairground in Lebanon. Both meeting takes place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Larry Moorehead at the Moore County UT Extension office at 759-7163.