drought monitor

Tools of the Trade: Drought Monitors Recommended

David Kee suggests one of his most dependable tools

Kee webThe Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) welcomes Dr. David Kee as its new director of research. Originally from Texas, Kee brings a wide range of experience and interests to MSR&PC, including both livestock and a wide variety of row crops.

As Kee begins his work with MSR&PC, he says he is frequently asked,“Doc, how do you decide …?” Which is another way of saying, “What are some of your most dependable tools?”

One tool Kee recommends is the drought monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/), which is hosted by the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As indicated by its name, the site monitors drought statuses around the United States. Updates are provided Thursday mornings.

While this helps monitor the current situations, what about next week? Next month? Next spring? Under the tab labeled “Supplemental Information,” a forecast link is available. This link provides a forecast of temperature and precipitation by indicating these measurements will be above normal, below normal or near normal in a three-month time frame. For example, the October forecast suggested much of Minnesota will be warmer than normal and drier than normal this winter.

Farmers can also use the drought monitor as a planning tool. A warmer, drier winter suggests an opportunity may arise to plant earlier than normal. Kee adds “We all know every extra day early may increase the potential for a larger-than-average crop, much like we experienced in 2015.”

Kee encourages farmers to explore the drought monitor. Tax dollars are used to develop and maintain it. His experience with the tool, both in Minnesota and down south, has been good. And, he adds, “I hope you will find it useful, also.”