The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing local farmers with some tips to help them conserve water should the area experience another long-term drought next year.

Public Affairs Officer Diane Petit tells WBSM News that one piece of advice they offer farmers is to ensure that they don't leave the soil bare of organic material.

"When the soil has more organic matter it acts like a sponge and it's able to retain water," said Petit "so by increasing the organic matter, which can be done through cover crops and reduced tillage, farmers need to irrigate less and they're less dependent on water."

Petit says the amount of water saved by utilizing organic material is quite significant.

"Soil organic matter can hold 18 to 20 times its weight in water and it recycles nutrients as well" said Petit "it's estimated that the top six inches of soil can hold approximately 27,000 gallons of water per acre which is really significant."

Petit says the USDA is also working with farmers to make this irrigation practices more efficient.

"By making irrigation systems more efficient they can save alot more water over the course of the growing season," said Petit.

As part of this process loans will be provided to farmers who wish to improve the efficiency of their irrigation systems.

More regarding drought resources and other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs can be found here.

You can also visit the USDA's West Wareham Field Office at 15 Cranberry Highway.

They can also be reached by phone at 508-295-5151 ext. 2.

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