Article by Kim Colavito Markesich Originally published by Contact Mike O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director, Storrs, CT 860-486-6270 Angie Harris, Research Assistant, Storrs, CT 860-486-7176 While Connecticut residents live in a state with ample water resources, we are beginning to notice some changes in precipitation trends. “Connecticut is very fortunate as we’re actually quite water rich,” says Angie Harris, research assistant in UConn Extension. “We are getting rainfall, but there’s a shift in what we are beginning to experience, and what scientists expect to continue, that is more intense rain events less frequently. This type of rainfall can lead to drought conditions for agricul- tural producers.” In 2015, Connecticut requested over $8 million dollars in federal emergency loans to be made available for crop losses due to moderate drought conditions across the state. Mike O’Neill, associate dean and associate director of UConn Extension, and Harris are working on a five-year water conservation project funded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Funding is provided through a $400,000 NRCS grant matched one to one by the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The UConn team is partnering with NRCS to promote conservation assistance to agricultural producers. The project goal focuses on agricultural water security by helping farmers prepare for drought, improve their irrigation efficiency and establish water conservation practices. “In the past, NRCS did everything themselves,” O’Neill explains. “But now they are outsourcing some of that work because they realize we have partnerships in the community that can be effective in helping people implement agricultural conserva- tion practices. I think this is a very innovative act on the part of the NRCS.” Twelve pilot sites across the state have been identi- fied to include a variety of agricultural operations including greenhouses, nurseries, vegetable growers and dairy and livestock farms. “We’re really trying to target new and beginning agricultural operations because we feel they run Preparing Agriculture Producers for Drought 14 2016 HIGHLIGHTS OF EXTENSION