A total of $5.3 million in grants have been awarded for research to help farmers and ranchers prepare for drought, announced the USDA.

The grants will help researchers focusing on drought-related issues ranging from grazing management to irrigation strategies to new cropping systems.

“Conservation Innovation Grants are an excellent way to invest in new technology and approaches that will help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities be more resilient in the future,” says Tom Vilsack, USDA ag secretary.

South Dakota State University received $713,000 to create four demonstrations of grazing management on ranches in Nebraska and South Dakota. The sites will allow producers to see first hand how new grazing management practices can help their land recover from drought through the use of rainout shelters.

Other entities receiving grants include:

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research, which received $233,000 to develop guidelines for managing irrigation during drought conditions and create computer programs for linking weather stations for irrigation scheduling.
  • The University of Florida Board of Trustees, which was awarded $442,000 to help drought adaptation by creating and evaluation innovative approaches to improve irrigation water-use efficiency with crops during drought.
  • Colorado State University, which was given $883,000 for soil, crop and water management practices that help adapt irrigated cropping systems in the Great Plains to drought and lead to an efficient use of water. The grant will also help modify a current model to let farmers calculate water savings from other conservation practices.