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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Developing a Drought Preparedness Plan

    Throughout the United States, some areas are more prone to dry weather and drought conditions than others. However, nowhere in the country is immune to the risk of a water shortage. Knowing ways to conserve water and what to do during a drought can be crucial when navigating an emergency situation. At Tractor Supply, we have over 85 years of experience and offer a variety of drought solutions in our selection of watering and irrigation products. Here, we describe best practices for preparing for drought conditions.

    Gather Supplies and Equipment

    In an extreme weather event, you never know when you might need things like first-aid items, a supply of drinking water or backup power. During a drought especially, you’ll also need to consider any plants or crops on your property, as well as your farm animals. Prepare for a drought by checking off the items on your weather emergency list, such as:

    Irrigation Management

    Life Out Here usually involves a lot of watering, whether you’re a small farmer or backyard gardener. To get ready for potential water shortages, consider switching to more efficient irrigation practices. With these drought solutions from Tractor Supply, you can become ready to face extremely dry conditions: 

    • Drip irrigation: A well-known micro-irrigation technique, drip irrigation uses a low volume of water – at the lowest possible pressure – to efficiently deliver water directly to plant roots or desired soil surfaces. Drip irrigation systems are built from thin tubing and pipes and drippers. Their design makes watering more efficient by:
    • Decreasing how much water makes unwanted contact with leaves, stems, vegetables or fruits
    • Reducing lost water due to runoff and evaporation
    • Keeping wind from rerouting water into undesired areas
    • Preventing water from percolating too deep into the soil 
    • Lawn timersConnecting to sprinklers or irrigation systems, lawn timers help you manage how long an area is watered by automating the process. These tools assist in reducing overwatering and conserving water throughout the year but especially during a drought. 
    • Rain gauges: By measuring rainfall, these tools help you monitor weather trends in your area, so you know exactly when to adjust your processes as extreme dryness settles in. 

    Livestock and Poultry Hydration

    For property owners with livestock, chickens and other animals, make sure you have the following on hand to prepare for a drought:

    • Forage: Extremely dry weather can impact the amount of forage naturally available to grazing livestock. Supplement their forage intake with these special feeds, which are usually plant-based and intended to be spread where animals graze. 
    • Poultry hydration supplies: Ensure you have enough chicken waterers in your coops or pens to accommodate your entire flock.
    • Livestock hydration supplies: From waterers to livestock electrolytes, consider what your animals need to maintain optimal hydration. 
    • Stock tanks: These large, open tanks are used to provide farm animals with easily accessible drinking water. Stock tanks are typically constructed from rugged materials like galvanized steel. 

    Your drought preparedness plan should also address how to respond if your animals experience a medical emergency. Keep your veterinarian’s phone number in your cell phone or somewhere the whole family knows. Seek veterinary care immediately if you observe signs of heat stress in your animals, including excessive thirst, fatigue, lethargy, rapid heart rate or abnormal panting. 

    Water Storage

    One of the best ways to conserve water is to collect and store rainwater, which can then be used for various purposes around your property. This may include irrigating crops or plants, watering your lawn, bathing animals or cleaning hardscaping features. Tractor Supply makes it easy to collect rainwater so you can conserve your well water or keep your water bill under control. We offer:

    • Rain barrels: To collect rainwater during storms or runoff from roofs and gutters, invest in a rain barrel (or several, depending on the size of your property and needs). Stored rainwater should not be used as drinking or cooking water, but it can be utilized around your property when watering crops or plants, cleaning outdoor furniture or hardscaping, bathing animals and more. 
    • Water storage tanksFor those who have livelihoods depending on ample water supply, or for hobbyists and gardeners with more water needs, water storage tanks could be an ideal solution. The collected water usually runs through a filtration system, so it can be used in various ways around your home and property. 

    Emergency Supplies

    The following supplies and equipment can come in handy during many weather-related emergencies, including droughts:

    • Batteries and battery chargers: Droughts are sometimes accompanied by extreme heat waves that can knock out electricity for days or weeks. Make sure you have the appropriate batteries and battery chargers, in addition to car-friendly chargers, for all of your day-to-day devices. 
    • Dehumidifiers: Even those in humid environments can experience water shortages. Dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air and collect water in a tub, which needs to be emptied regularly. This water can easily be used to water plants and crops, clean landscaping features, bathe animals and more. 
    • First-aid kitsHave a fully stocked first-aid kit in your home and in each of your vehicles, as well as at your workplace. Make sure they include dust masks or N95 masks, as well as whistles or flares if you need to signal for help. 
    • Gas cans: If a drought is accompanied by a power outage, having spare fuel is important for various uses, especially if you are evacuating. 
    • Generators: Backup power can keep your watering systems, air conditioning and other vital devices powered in an electricity outage. Find inverter generatorsportable generators and whole house generators at Tractor Supply. We offer various options for generator power types, including:
    • Battery
    • Dual fuel
    • Electric
    • Gasoline or natural gas
    • Propane or liquid propane
    • Light and heat sources: These may include propanelighters, lighter fluid, matches, flashlights and lanterns.
    • Water bottles: Make sure you have enough water for each member of your household. The recommendation is one gallon per day per person. 

    Learn Water Conservation Techniques

    Other than having drought preparedness supplies and tools, you must know how to conserve water on your property. Here are a few of Tractor Supply’s best water conservation tips:

    Practice permaculture gardening. 

    Meaning “permanent culture” or “permanent agriculture,” permaculture gardening harnesses the power of nature to support long-term sustainability in the natural ecosystem. This includes managing how you use water throughout your garden or crops. Some of the main principles of permaculture gardening are:

    • Attract pollinators that provide crucial benefits to the ecosystem.
    • Consider the zone method that groups certain species that share similar sun and water needs.
    • Choose plants/crops native to your area so they can tolerate natural conditions. 
    • Don’t plant traditional rows but instead follow the outline of a keyhole or branches to maximize space.
    • Leave areas of land fallow to reduce the amount of watering you need to do each season. 
    • Maintain weeds so they don’t compete with plants/crops for precious water sources. 
    • Place appropriate plants/crops in shady areas, where evaporation in the soil is reduced
    • Plant perennials to avoid the need for annual tilling, such as:
    • Herbs
    • Rhubarb
    • Berry plants
    •  Fruit and nut trees
    • Asparagus and other vegetables
    • Use the Three Sisters planting method for planting beans, corn and squash.

    Ensure high-quality soil by using compost and mulch. 

    When it comes to retaining as much moisture as possible during dry spells and droughts, as well as keeping plants and crops thriving, the health of your soil matters. Because soil is made of decomposed organic matter, like twigs and leaves, it’s recommended to use compost and mulch. These can make soil more attractive to helpful organisms that contribute to ecosystems, such as fungi, insects and earthworms. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Tractor Supply’s resources about sheet mulching and chop-and-drop mulching

    Be mindful of the water needs of your plants or crops. 

    Many crops and plants require frequent watering, such as almonds, avocados, rice and sugarcane. If you are able, consider making the switch to drought-resistant options that require much less water to thrive, including:

    • Fruits: Okra, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini 
    • Plants: Cacti, lamb’s ear, lavender, ornamental grass, Russian sage, Santolina, succulents, sedums
    • Vegetables: Corn, pole beans, sweet potato, Swiss chard 

    Use drought-resistant landscaping methods. 

    Whereas non-porous landscaping materials can cause evaporation, runoff, water pooling and other wasteful outcomes, porous hardscaping materials are better for the ground beneath. Porous materials allow water to percolate into the soil, contributing to the water supply that supports natural ecosystems. By opting for choices like gravel or river stones, you can get the most out of the natural rainfall in your area. 

    Make water-efficient upgrades around your home or buildings. 

    Whether you live on a farm or have a rural warehouse, any houses and buildings should be outfitted with water-efficient fixtures and appliances. Consider low-flow aerators for faucets to reduce water waste, and look for toilets, showerheads and appliances designed with water efficiency in mind. 

    Recognize the Signs of a Drought

    Droughts are defined as long periods of no or minimal precipitation. No matter where you live in the United States, you should be able to recognize the signs of a drought, which include:

    • Cracked, dry soil
    • Dirt that is dusty when stepping on it or in the wind
    • Leaves appearing reddish or yellowish not due to fall foliage
    • Lower water levels in local waterways 
    • Small blooms
    • Slowed new leaf growth
    • Weak, dry branches and twigs that break easily
    • Wilting/dropping fruits or flowers

    Learn More About How to Prepare for Droughts with Tractor Supply

    Before a water shortage or drought affects your area, be prepared with the right tools and supplies from Tractor Supply. Proudly serving communities across the nation as America’s largest rural lifestyle retailer, we’re here to help you face any extreme weather event. Shop our inventory online or visit your local Tractor Supply store today. 

    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.