With drought conditions gripping more than half the United States this summer, water-saving strategies are more critical than ever for America's farmers and ranchers.

As producers throughout the nation grow increasingly concerned about water scarcity, farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators are beginning to explore new, conservation-oriented approaches to water use, according to USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). They are managing soil to improve infiltration, selecting drought-tolerant crops and native forages, and designing innovative runoff collection systems.

A 16-page bulletin from SARE, Smart Water Use on Your Farm or Ranch, is an excellent primer on conservation-oriented approaches to water use.

The publication spotlights innovative, SARE-funded research into a range of conservation options including soil management, such as using compost, conservation tillage and cover crops; plant management, featuring crop rotation, water-conserving plants and rangeland drought mitigation; and water management strategies such as low-volume irrigation and water recycling.

The bulletin also features farmers who are managing soil to improve infiltration, selecting drought-tolerant crops and native forages, and designing innovative systems for tillage, irrigation and runoff collection.

Read more.