In light of the weather phenomenon El Niño this year depriving Costa Rica of its standard plentiful rainfall, the Production Ministry is recommending that livestock farmers take measures to ensure that their animals have enough to eat during this year’s dry season, which will likely begin this month.
Scientists are predicting that El Niño, which is caused by a heating of Pacific Ocean waters by one-half a degree Celsius for a five-month period or longer, will mean an extremely dry season for Costa Rica this year, particularly for the northwestern Guanacaste province (TT, Oct. 27).
The Production Ministry, together with the National Institute for the Innovation and Transfer of Agricultural Technology (INTA), is researching several hybrid strains of corn that can be stored in silos and used as livestock feed in the event that droughts leave the animals with nothing else to eat.
The corn being researched is harvested after it has lost all of its water and begun to dry. It can then be stored in silos covered with plastic for two to three months until it is fed to cattle.
A pilot project being carried out with 70 farmers in the north-central area surrounding Ciudad Quesada has been “very successful” so far, according to a statement the ministry issued this week.
One farmer was able to feed 10 dairy cows for three months using corn he harvested from a 1,500-square-meter lot.