Promoting sustainable range-livestock enterprises through partnerships which develop producer mentoring networks for best management practices
Producer awareness of the importance of monitoring rangeland health was increased through workshops, presentations, articles in the CGREC annual report, field days, and the producer mentor network. The demonstration farm was created and utilizes rotational grazing on tame and native pastures as well as crop aftermath grazing, creep feeding, and backgrounding with forages and grains raised at CGREC. Collaboration and cooperation with federal agencies and private producers will continue to be encouraged and utilized as a medium of information dissemination.
Short Term Outcomes:
1) Increase producer awareness of the potential economic returns from a properly managed forage base.
2) Assist producers to assess the productive potential of their rangeland through the use of soil maps to determine range sites.
3) Teach producers to set up and maintain a rangeland monitoring program on their land.
4) Assist producers with development of computerized records of livestock inventory, performance, and sales.
1) CGREC will develop a whole enterprise management system (WEMS) to be used for public instruction and viewing.
2) Formation of a producer mentoring network to assist producers with WEMS development on their farms.
Short Term Outcomes:
1) Producer awareness of the potential economic returns from a properly managed forage base is beginning to be realized and increased through-out the local region and the state of North Dakota. This is being accomplished through: workshops, presentations, articles in the CGREC annual report, field days, and the producer mentor network.
-During June, the facilitator, Amanda Hancock, along with a panel of successful producers (including Gene Goven) spoke at the annual field day at CGREC of the value of rangeland monitoring to understand and manage a forage base properly.
-In November, Amanda conducted a hands-on workshop on the benefits of rangeland monitoring which included time in the field looking for indicators of rangeland health.
-CGREC’s annual report is widely distributed both in the state and nationally.
-Amanda and Brian wrote articles describing the seventeen indicators of rangeland health created by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the production data from the cattle used in the demonstration model farm. We will continue to work on this goal throughout the duration of this project through bulletins, presentations, and a range tour at the 2006 annual field day.
2) During the workshop presented in November, Jeff Printz, demonstrated to participants how to dig a soil pit and interpret indicators of rangeland soil health. This objective will also be the focus of the following year. When Amanda is out one-on-one with producers, she will use soil maps either obtained from the NRCS collaborators or generated with a Geographic Information System (GIS) along with physical indicators of soil productivity and health.
3) When Amanda is out one-on-one with producers, she will utilize the producer mentoring network and collaborators on this project. We will provide producers with soil maps of their operation, and teach them how to effectively evaluate the health of their rangelands by utilizing the seventeen indicators developed by the NRCS and others.
4) We will collaborate with the NRCS which is currently recommending that producers use Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) to keep track of both rangeland monitoring and cattle production records.
1) During the past year, we have developed a WEMS utilizing the resources available to us. This model farm utilizes rotational grazing in tame and native pastures and also crop aftermath grazing on corn, alfalfa, and barley fields. The calves were creep fed for 30 days before being weaned in October. The steering committee suggested that we background half of our calves and finish half of our calves, tracking and comparing expenses and profits. We have also set up transects for monitoring rangeland health in each of the tame and native pastures (totaling six). These transects utilize repeat photography, cover and height of vegetation measurements, and plants species identification and count. During the annual field day in June, we will host a tour of this model farm and its different components.
2) In cooperation with the North Dakota Mentoring Network and the North Dakota Private Grazing Lands Coalition, we will continue to introduce producers and mentors during our field day presentations and through our annual report.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Overall farm production levels: By using the model farm to incorporate best management practices (BMPs), we have reduced our dependency on harvested forage by 3 months which is a total of 2184 lbs of dry matter per cow. There are 100 cows in the model farm herd, so the total reduction in harvested forages is 218,400 lbs (109 tons) per year. Another year of information is needed to determine the economic impacts of this project.
The environment: The promotion of keeping good records on both grazing and production practices coincides with the introduction of the NRCS Conservation Security Program (CSP) which provides payments to producers who can prove good stewardship of their lands. Good record keeping practices let producers benefit from CSP by enabling them to maintain documentation of their management practices on their enterprises. Each year watersheds are chosen at random, but potentially, the importance of good record keeping could benefit nearly every producer in the state of North Dakota, and in the North Central region.
Family farms and other areas: We had an above-average turn-out at the field day in June, and Amanda’s presentation on the value of rangeland health was heard by over 150 local producers and rangeland professionals. The rangeland health workshop in November was attended by a small but enthusiastic group of about 10. Articles written about the model farm and the indicators of rangeland health were printed in the annual report of which 50,000 copies were distributed both locally and nationally. This report targets both producers and rangeland professionals.
Medina, ND 58467
Office Phone: 7014863247
Medina High School
PO Box 602
Medina, ND 58467
1924 N. Grandview Lane
Bismarck, ND 58503
Office Phone: 7012233421
State Range Extension Specialist
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND 58105
Office Phone: 7012317647
Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag.
209 Curtiss Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-1050
Office Phone: 5152943711
1824 15th Ave NW
Turtle Lake, ND 58575
Office Phone: 7014482405
12704 85th St. SE
Gwinner, ND 58040-9741
Office Phone: 7016782653
14618 57th St SE
Sheldon, ND 58068
Assoc. Professor/Research Scientist
NDSU Animal & Range Sciences Dept.,
Fargo, ND 58105
Natural Resources Conservation Service
PO Box 1458
Bismarck,, ND 58502-1458
Office Phone: 7015302080
Facilitator, Range and Natural Resource Specialist
NDSU Central Grasslands REC
4824 48th Ave SE
Streeter, ND 58483
Office Phone: 7014243606
11450 353 Ave
Leola, SD 57456