The Drought-Resilient Farm

Dale Strickler grew up in southeast Kansas where plentiful rains fell most years till about July 4th, and then stopped. It was heartbreaking to watch the family’s healthy crops wither and die. He says the soil in that area is very heavy clay with poor water infiltration.

Strickler thought, if they could just fix the soil to make it accept and hold onto moisture, they’d have it made. He started talking to people who were successful at that, and has written a book called “The Drought-Resilient Farm.” He says it’s not just about the rain, it’s how you care for the soil.

"Unfortunately, most of our past management has made things worse. Practices like tillage, and fallow, which we thought were helping us manage drought. In reality, we’ve discovered that they actually made things much, much worse. Especially in the long-run," says Strickler. "So, a lot of this book focuses on things like no-till and cover crops, managing organic matter, and practices that increase root depth."

Strickler says the disasters of drought can be lessened by having a plan in place before, during, and after a drought.

"I have a whole checklist of activities that you can do prior to the drought to set yourself up so that you have a more moisture-efficient pasture, moisture-efficient crop field," he says. "What do you do during the drought? How do you find emergency feed, how do you make sure your livestock have water? And then after the drought, make a lot of observations, take notes, learn lessons, and put them to use."