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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #316244

Title: Precipitation monitoring to accurately depict drought conditions on your allotment

item Clements, Darin - Charlie
item MCLAIN, JOHN - Resource Concepts

Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/2015
Publication Date: 4/6/2015
Citation: Clements, D.D., Mclain, J. 2015. Precipitation monitoring to accurately depict drought conditions on your allotment. The Progressive Rancher. 15(4):36-37.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service has been reading numerous precipitation gauges throughout the Great Basin for more than three decades. State climatologists, land owners and researchers have obtained data from this long-term monitoring effort. The construction and application of using these precipitation gauges is quite inexpensive. The proto-type, 26” circular base, 8” width x 13” height cylinder can be constructed at the local sheet metal shop for about $36 or possibly even constructed in your shop for less. The sheet metal gauge is dependent on the weight that you prefer which can aid in keeping the precipitation gauge in place during very windy conditions. The precipitation gauge can be read at whatever interval the user prefers. At ARS we read our precipitation gauges monthly (1st of the month give or take a couple of days), or in some cases quarterly due to distance from field office. You simply add in oil (300 mL) in summer months and for winter months oil (200 mL) and anti-freeze (300 mL). At each monitoring date you empty the precipitation gauge into a graduated cylinder (we use 1000 mL), subtract the oil and/or anti-freeze amount and divide by 826 and you have your precipitation for that time period in inches (see table). Empty and discard oil and anti-freeze into a disposable container and add new oil and anti-freeze. In the early 1990's a permittee in northern Nevada was experience difficulties with some resource managers regarding plant growth. The resource managers assumed the habitat had experienced a certain amount of favorable precipitation, our precipitation gauge actually pointed out that the specific area they were commenting on did not receive favorable precipitation. Recently another permittee was kept off of an allotment due to drought maps, yet spring precipitation recorded in the precipitation gauges in the area revealed a different story, as did the excellent plant growth that had taken place. Precipitation gauges are excellent tools to better understand the variation in precipitation across a small area, over a landscape and allotment as well as provide an incentive to accurately record this data and further understand the true meaning of favorable precipitation.