Last summer's southern drought scared many producers into taking preventative measures this summer. Charlie White of Patrick Welder Ranches in Victoria, Texas, decided he wasn't taking any chances this year. Two months ago he start-ed aerating his soil. This allowed him to take early advantage of any moisture they received.

"Last year when we did get some rain, it just ran right off the top," he says. "This summer we knew we better make use of every rain drop that falls, just in case another drought followed."

Not easily convinced by the idea at first, Mr. White rented an aerator for a few weeks to see how it worked. He was soon impressed with the little pockets it created in the soil to catch and hold any rain that fell. He then purchased an aerator and plans to run it over every acre of pasture his cows graze.