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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Agricultural Drought Preparedness: Conserving Water on Your Farm or Property

    Though some areas are at higher risk, it’s very hard to predict whether a drought may affect your community – and nowhere in the United States is immune to the possibility. Droughts are defined as long periods of abnormally dry weather with little to no precipitation. This extreme weather event can lead to water shortages that can seriously impact your area, especially if you’re in the agriculture field. 

    Droughts can last for days, weeks, months or even years. Be ready to face the unexpected by preparing for drought conditions and learning water conservation techniques. Here, Tractor Supply, America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer, discusses how to prep your agricultural property for drought with our watering and irrigation products.

    Identifying the Right Agricultural Drought Solutions

    Whether you’re an avid gardener, professional farmer or rancher or grazing landowner, droughts can have a massive impact on your operations. Not only can crops, plants and flowers suffer, but so can your poultryhorses and other livestock. Droughts can also be responsible for increased wildfire risk, outbreaks of insects and decreased nutrient, water and carbon cycling. All of these are major issues for the agricultural community, as droughts can put their health and livelihoods in danger. That’s why it’s so important to have the right agricultural drought solutions from Tractor Supply, including:

    Water Storage

    Irrigation can become difficult during a drought, which is why it’s crucial to store extra water throughout the year. Collecting and storing rainwater is easy with some equipment from Tractor Supply. Common water storage options include:

    • Rain barrels: As their name suggests, rain barrels collect rainwater falling from the sky, as well as any runoff water from gutters. Smaller properties may suffice with just a few rain barrels as their extra water supply, but larger properties should empty their rain barrels into a larger water storage tank. It’s important to note that stored rainwater should only be used for irrigation or sanitation – never for drinking or cooking.
    • Water storage tanks: These storage tanks are ideal for larger agricultural properties, with above-ground, underground and potable options available. Water tanks are typically connected to a water filtration system, which cleans collected water and makes it usable for various purposes. These may include irrigation, livestock hydration, fire suppression and food preparation. Some water tanks are simple and look like oversized storage bins, while others are similar to propane tanks.

    Having water storage on your property can help reduce the risk of losses due to a drought. You also want backup drinking water at the ready, such as water bottles or gallon jugs in coolers. Tractor Supply’s knowledgeable associates can help you find the right water storage solutions for your needs. 

    Drip Irrigation

    For watering efficiency, strongly consider implementing drip irrigation systems, which can help to conserve water during a drought. Using a low volume of water at a low pressure, drip irrigation is defined as a micro-irrigation method. With thin pipes and tubing, it slowly delivers water directly to plant roots or soil surfaces. The system’s drippers are placed in the ideal locations (i.e. the base of a plant) to reduce the amount of water making contact with stems, leaves and fruit or vegetables. Drip irrigation systems also help to minimize evaporation and runoff, as well as water percolation too deep in the soil. What’s more, these systems can prevent winds from rerouting water in undesired directions. 

    Poultry and Livestock Hydration

    Drought periods impact animals in many ways, from limiting forage growth to making them even more uncomfortable in hot weather. Remember to call your veterinarian immediately if your animals are showing signs of heat stress, such as:

    • Abnormal panting
    • Excessive thirst
    • Faster-than-normal heart rate
    • Fatigue and lethargy

    Tractor Supply can help you set your animals up to thrive during a drought, offering products such as:

    • Forage: Give your animals extra food sources during droughts, as their normal resources may be impacted by water shortages. Forage is typically made of plant materials and meant to be spread in areas where livestock graze. 
    • Stock tanks: Constructed from galvanized steel or other rugged materials, stock tanks are large and open so livestock and other farm animals can easily get a drink. 
    • Livestock hydration supplies: In addition to livestock waterers like stock tanks, you should also have livestock electrolytes and other supplements on hand. 
    • Poultry hydration supplies: Have enough chicken waterers to accommodate the size of your flock, and consider chicken vitamins and supplements to support their hydration and overall health. 


    Dehumidifiers inside warehouses and other indoor spaces can pay off in multiple ways. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air to make environments more comfortable, especially during extreme heat. This moisture is collected by the dehumidifier in its water storage tub, which regularly needs to be emptied. The collected water can be used for various purposes around your property during water shortages, such as cleaning machinery or bathing animals. 

    Lawn Timers and Rain Gauges

    For automatic watering systems, utilize lawn timers to avoid overwatering plants and crops, especially during droughts. You can also use rain gauges to help you monitor rainfall levels, as well as identify trends for when weather tends to be dry. Using tools like these can help you adjust on the fly when drought conditions threaten your area. 

    Backup Power

    Droughts are often accompanied by periods of extreme heat, making water shortages even tougher to deal with. Extreme heat events can cause brownouts and blackouts, so it’s recommended to invest in generators for each building on your agricultural property. With a generator, you can keep your dehumidifiers, air conditioners, fans and other systems powered, no matter what obstacles drought conditions throw your way. 

    Tractor Supply is home to a variety of generator options, including portable generatorsinverter generators and whole house generators. You can also choose from multiple generator power sources, including:

    View Tractor Supply’s generator FAQs to learn more about choosing the best generator for your needs. You should also have batteries and battery chargers at the ready for your battery-powered devices. 

    Knowing Ways to Conserve Water on Your Property

    When droughts occur, every community is hit hard – but they can be especially devastating for agriculture, which depends on ample water supply to thrive. Sparse or no rainfall presents multiple challenges when irrigating crops, providing water to animals and mitigating risks from insects. Though droughts are inevitable, production losses on your property don’t have to be. Be proactive when water is scarce with the following water conservation tips from Tractor Supply: 

    • Avoiding crops requiring a lot of water, such as:
      • Sugarcane
      • Rice
      • Almonds
      • Avocados
    • Budgeting for additional water costs, like delivery fees
    • Choosing areas of land to leave fallow for the season
    • Considering drought-tolerant crops and drought-resistant plants that require little water, like:
      • Sweet potatoes
      • Watermelon
      • Corn
      • Succulents
      • Cacti
      • Okra
      • Swiss chard
      • Pole beans
      • Zucchini 
      • Tomatoes
    • Dressing fields with compost
    • Equipping faucets with low-flow aerators to decrease wasted water usage
    • Having emergency items on hand, like fire extinguishersfirst-aid kids and non-perishable foods
    • Installing water-efficient appliances, faucets, showerheads and toilets
    • Leaving crop residues in their fields 
    • Practicing permaculture gardening techniques 
    • Pulling weeds so they don’t compete with crops/plants for water 
    • Using cardboard or straw as mulch
    • Utilizing no-till practices or planting cover crops to help build healthier soil that retains more moisture

    Recognizing the Signs of Droughts and Dry Spells

    It’s obvious when rain has been absent for days or weeks on end, but you can’t always know if a dry spell has resulted in a water shortage. Look to nature to determine how dry your area has become. The following are signs of extremely dry weather or drought conditions:

    • Dry, cracked soil 
    • Dry twigs and branches that snap easily 
    • Dustiness 
    • Leaves that are yellowish or reddish outside of normal fall foliage
    • Lower water levels in streams, lakes, rivers and creeks
    • Slow rate of new leaf growth
    • Smaller blooms than usual
    • Wilting or drooping fruits or flowers

    Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Drought Preparedness 

    How do droughts affect agriculture? 

    When droughts occur, they can impact crops and plants and put livestock at risk. Droughts also have an indirect effect on agriculture by posing increased wildfire risk and decreasing water supplies and carbon cycling. For these reasons, having the right agricultural drought solutions in place is vital. 

    What is drip irrigation and why is it helpful during a drought? 

    With drip irrigation, water enters soil surfaces or plant roots slowly via thin pipes and tubing. These drippers are placed strategically to reduce the amount of water in stems, leaves and crops. The water conservation aspect of drip irrigation makes it helpful for weathering droughts. It also helps reduce evaporation and runoff and can prevent winds for moving water away from crops and plants. 

    Learn How to Prepare for Drought Conditions at Tractor Supply

    When Life Out Here brings water shortages, agricultural property and business owners need to know what to do during a drought. Tractor Supply is backed by 85 years of knowledge and experience with extreme weather events, including droughts. We’re here to help our communities prepare for the worst and clean up after experiencing severe weather. Visit your local Tractor Supply store or shop online to learn more about our agricultural drought solutions.

    Please note: This information is general and is not intended to replace or override any of the advice, warnings, or information given by local officials, FEMA, NOAA or any other official regulatory organization or government branch regarding storm safety in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, floods or any other natural disaster or man-made disaster. Always follow take-cover recommendations, evacuation orders and any other advice given by local officials for your area, regardless of whether it is similar to or different from the information on TractorSupply.com.