The higher temperatures that started building over the past weekend is forecast to continue to heat up for the next several days, and is intensifying the impact of the drought on crops throughout the Four Corners region and beyond. Farmers who receive water from the Dolores Water Conservation District in Montezuma and Dolores Counties are finishing up their only cutting of hay they expect to harvest this growing season, and irrigation equipment is setting idle in fields that would normally be green and growing at this time of year because farmers concentrated their water on their better fields and left other fields dry. Dolores County Extension Director Gus Westerman, points out that dryland crops like wheat and safflower may turn out to profitable this year in Southwest Colorado and southeast Utah if they were planted early and have deeper moisture that they can access because of their root development. Westerman said that the results of some soil assessments he recently completed found moisture from eight inches to deeper depths probably due to winter snow and spotty rain events that dropped an inch and a half in some areas, but left other areas dry. Although the growing season has started out dry, Westerman said that many dryland bean farmers have planted their fields in hopes of harvesting a crop this fall. The extreme dry weather affecting the western part of the country may soon have an economic impact across the entire country by driving up food prices, according to agricultural economists. There are reports of farmers in California’s Central Valley plowing up some vegetable crop fields and even pulling out whole almond tree orchards because there is no irrigation water to keep the crops and trees alive.
Although the federal infrastructure bill is teetering on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations are lobbying for spending $49 billion for canal and reservoir repairs and other projects that would improve water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. The groups want: More than $13 billion in Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years, including storage and conveyance, dam safety, rural water, water-smart technologies, and water recycling and reuse projects, $34 billion for USDA to undertake forest restoration, watershed protection and flood prevention projects, and $1.75 billion for Army Corps of Engineers water storage projects and environmental infrastructure. The organizations contend that changing hydrological conditions and an expanding population in the West raise serious concerns about the future viability of the nation’s water infrastructure, and are calling for a diversified water management portfolio that serves a broad range of water uses.
Feral swine continue to create havoc across the forests and fields of most of the southern states, California, and some counties in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. But recently, a company called HogStop is marketing a product that’s a mixture of natural feedstuffs, that the company claims when fed to feral swine, acts as a male contraceptive on feral boar hogs. This in turn, leads to less baby swine being born, and over time, lower populations of these destructive animals, which may be a more humane way of handling the feral swine problem than trapping and shooting.
In 349 BC, Plato wrote, “Man is a troublesome animal and therefore is not very manageable.”