By Chris Righter, Product Manager
Drought. For a grower, it’s not a matter of if, but rather, when and how long will it last? Drought is seen as something that must be endured and reacted to. But reacting is usually expensive and not nearly as efficient as a planned response.
Unfortunately, science and technology have not yet developed any ways to eliminate drought. It remains a risk to growers all over the world. As a risk, it can be planned for using the same risk planning tools used in other businesses. Below is a series of steps to help you develop solutions to drought.
1. Identify First, identify all the effects a drought could have. Certainly the most obvious are the impact on crops and livestock. How much financial impact could that be? Could it affect your community by driving neighbors to move? Would it add stress to your personal relationships?
2. Analyze Now that you have listed what could happen, that list needs to be prioritized. Decide how likely it is that each effect might occur and how impactful it might be if it does. This list helps you better expend your effort in planning your responses. Effects that are very unlikely to occur, and have little impact on you if they do, can safely be ignored while you find solutions for events that are certain to occur and have a huge impact.
3. Respond Working through your prioritized list, you can develop responses to each possible effect. Broadly, responses fall into three categories: Avoid, where you keep the effect from occurring; Mitigate, which is lessening the impact; and finally, you may Choose to Accept the Impact because there are no realistic ways to avoid or mitigate it. You may decide to avoid crop loss by purchasing center pivot irrigation or adding remote control solutions for your current center pivot irrigation, allowing you to water your crops efficiently and effectively. You may choose to mitigate the impact by using drought-resistant seeds. Finally, you might opt to accept the risk to livestock if you do not raise many animals.
4. Monitor Once the plan is completed, it needs to be monitored. Periodically review the plan to see if risks or responses may have changed. If you purchased more acres, you may find you need additional irrigation. New technology may make it possible to avoid or mitigate risks that you had been forced to accept.
5. Evaluate When a drought occurs, and you execute your plan, you will want to evaluate how well it worked and to make improvements. Additionally, you could look at droughts in other areas and project how well your responses would work.
If you are involved in agriculture, drought is going to rear its head sooner or later. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. By using the steps above, you can develop a drought plan that will see you survive and possibly thrive.