Drought Farming – How To Tackle Dry Conditions

The effects of the climate crisis are becoming clearer every day, and in many parts of Europe high temperatures have led to the onset of drought. In times like these it’s important to prepare your farm for the dry spell that lies ahead.

From new tillage techniques to reduced animal farming, there are a number of ways one can prepare the land for drought. The primary aspect is to ensure that soil water levels are maintained, and do not fall to dangerous levels.

Here are some expert tips on managing your farm during drought situations.

Conservation tillage

This is a modern tillage practice that concentrates only on the upper layer of the soil. By working the top centimetres, shallow tillage tools break apart soil capillaries, reducing evaporation and preserving subsoil moisture. The more moisture the soil can retain, the better it will perform under dry weather conditions. Shallow tillage machines are the best way to ensure your soil does not lose its water capacity during dry spells. They are also good at creating seedbeds that will last through seasons and managing stubble residue.

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is a very common practice that uses certain combinations of crops to enhance qualities of the soil. Crop rotation can be used to increase the moisture levels in the soil and also reduce the requirement for chemical fertilisers that speed up the evaporation process. With the help of crop rotation, one can ensure that the soil quality does not fall when faced with drought.

Deepwater sources

If you know a dry spell is going to hit you soon then it’s best to preserve your available groundwater sources. Rather, switch to deep aquifers, as these will be the first sources of water to dry up when the drought arrives. If you use your water resources wisely then the impact of drought can be mitigated. You can also install machinery that ensures the least wastage of water during the irrigation process.

Reduced animal farming

For those practicing grazing on their farmlands, this may be the time to look towards alternatives. Animal farming can have deep-seated environmental impacts and grazing can lead to loosening of the soil, as well as drying up the moisture contained within the topsoil. There are many conservational means of animal farming that farmers can opt to protect the soil, but an overall reduction in the amount of on-field grazing will be required to combat drought conditions.

Cover cropping

Cover cropping is the practice of planting crops that are used purely for soil cover. This helps in maintaining the moisture levels within the soil, as well as protecting against erosion. Cover cropping is a common solution that most farmer can integrate into their process, and is an effective way to fight off the effects of drought. The Kelly Tillage System can be fitted with an integrated seeder unit, allowing it to sow the cover crop in the same pass as managing stubble and levelling the seedbed.

Preparing for drought seems like an inevitable process for most European farmers at this point, but these practices will not only help retain the moisture in your soil but also benefit your agricultural process.