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Water Quality, Conservation, Drought and Irrigation


The publications and other resources in this area address water use, soil moisture management, water quality, and water conservation. Topics range from created wetlands to choosing water-use-efficient crops to water quality in organic production to irrigation management. This section addresses the close relationship between agricultural production, soil moisture, crop and livestock water use, and water resources. As anyone who has tried to farm during a prolonged drought can testify, crop production depends on good management of soil moisture, whether from rain or supplemental irrigation. Livestock need clean water for healthy and productive growth. Yet, crop and livestock production can harm water quality unless good soil and water conservation practices are in use. Farmers and ranchers concerned with environmental degradation and climate change will find helpful recommendations in these ATTRA publications, and at the resource links listed in them, and in the Further Resources list, below.

NOTE: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.

⇒ Publications and Resources

California Drought Programs and Resources - IP466


 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Conservation Easements - IP239


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Drought and Disaster Resources for Texas Producers - IP492


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Drought Resistant Soil - IP169

PDF Price: $0.99 for non-members

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Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators - IP278


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Maintaining Irrigation Pumps, Motors, and Engines - IP299


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Managed Grazing in Riparian Areas - IP223


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Measuring and Conserving Irrigation Water - IP280


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Micro-Hydro Power: A Beginners Guide to Design and Installation - IP383

PDF Price: $1.99 for non-members
Kindle Price: $1.99

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Micro-Hydro Power: Is It Right for My Farm? - IP384

PDF Price: $.99 for non-members
Kindle Price: $0.99

 • Summary • Buy PDF  • Buy Kindle • Buy Print Copy
Protecting Riparian Areas: Farmland Management Strategies - IP186


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Protecting Water Quality on Organic Farms - IP214

PDF Price: $2.95 for non-members

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Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods - IP277


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The California Microirrigation Pocket Guide - IP415

Kindle Price: $9.99

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The Irrigator’s Pocket Guide - IP511

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Drought Presentations

Since droughts can occur at any time, farmers and ranchers should manage accordingly.

The first three PowerPoint presentations focus on how to manage your cropland, pastures, or rangeland in good years, in order to minimize the impacts of drought when it occurs. The other three presentations discuss management practices that may be used during or following a drought. The Resource Guide provides a comprehensive text and Web-based materials, listed according to topics covered in the PowerPoint presentations.

These presentations may be viewed on your computer as self-study or information guides or may be projected and used in training sessions.

We welcome your feedback on these materials. Please send us a message and let us know how you used this information, whether it was useful, and any changes or corrections you can recommend.

Power Point Presentations

  • Drought Introduction [PDF / 354KB]
    An introduction to droughts, impacts on soils, crops, and animals with an overview of management practices to lessen the impacts of drought.
  • Soil Health and Drought [PDF / 812KB]
    Soil management and tillage practices to conserve water and maintain conditions for productive crop and forage growth during droughts.
  • Pasture Health and Drought Protection [PDF / 599KB]
    Rotational grazing practices and forage management to protect pasture resources prior to, during, and following a drought.
  • Irrigation [PDF / 673KB]
    Sustainable irrigation practices and methods for protecting soil and water quality when using irrigation.
  • Pasture and Rangeland Management during Drought [PDF / 611KB]
    Supplement feeding practices, toxic plants, toxic syndromes associated with drought, animal management and selective culling to reduce stress on land resources.
  • Water, Heat Stress, and Drought [PDF / 537KB]
    Animal water needs, water quality concerns, relationships between water quality, feed quality, and water consumption. Factors affecting heat stress and practices for minimizing it.


Drought Resource Guide [HTML]

A comprehensive list of text and Web-base resources organized according to topics addressed in the Power Point presentations. This list also provides links to climate monitoring information, drought-tolerant plant lists, and drought disaster relief programs. State-specific drought information and drought programs are provided at the end of this document.


Links to Other Water Quality and Conservation Information

Water Quality Protection

Laws and Regulations, Policy and Guidance Documents, and Legislation, US EPA Department of Water
National Agricultural Library Water Quality Information Center
National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Water
US Environmental Protection Agency: Watersheds
Water Resources of the United States, USGS

Riparian Protection

Cows and Fish. Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society
Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management
Sustainable Agricultural Land Management around Wetlands on the Canadian Prairies

Aquaponics and Aquaculture

Aquaculture Network Information Center
Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture
Global Aquaculture Alliance
North Central Regional Aquaculture Center
Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC)
NRAC is a principal public forum for the advancement and dissemination of science and technology needed by Northeastern aquacultural producers and support industries. Publications are located here:
Southern Regional Aquaculture Center
The World Aquaculture Society

Livestock and Drought

Animal Response to Drought. Drought Management on Range and Pastureland
BEHAVE : Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, and Ecosystem Management
Calculate Forage during droughts
Drought Information
Planning for Beef Cattle Operations in the Face of Drought
Poisonous Plants and Plant Toxins


Agricultural Water Conservation Clearinghouse
Environmental Impact of Irrigation: A Review
Irrigation Scheduling Checkbook Method
Irrigation Water Quality Standards and Salinity Management Strategies
Soil Water Monitoring and Measurement
Water Stewardship Project

Rainwater Harvesting

Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting

Water Protection Environmental Organizations

American Rivers
River Network
The Groundwater Foundation
Water Environment Federation

Climate and Weather Information

National Drought Mitigation Center
National Weather Service
NOAA/USDA-Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin


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This page was last updated on: September 23, 2015