Promoting sustainable range-livestock enterprises through partnerships which develop producer mentoring networks for best management practices

2006 Annual Report for LNC04-250

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $93,006.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Paul Nyren
North Dakota State University Central Grasslands

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.

Objectives/Performance Targets

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.

Intermediate Outcomes:
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) The potential to increase economic returns from a properly managed forage base was the core component to several seminars given around the state to a diverse set of audiences this year.
• Facilitator Amanda Hancock made over 30 on-farm visits for individual or small group instruction for producers in all parts of the states of North Dakota and South Dakota.
• During June, Amanda Hancock hosted a range tour on horseback and Paul Nyren hosted a range tour with tractor pulled wagons that showcased the development of a WEMS on CGREC property.
• Amanda, Paul, and Brian all wrote articles for the CGREC’s widely distributed annual report. Paul and Brian collaborated to write an article about livestock management and the economics of a WEMS. Amanda wrote an article describing a step-by-step approach to calculating a sustainable stocking rate and an article detailing the process of range monitoring with producers.
• Amanda gave seminars at the Society for Range Management International Meeting held in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Mobridge Ag. Expo in Mobridge, South Dakota.
• Amanda developed a high teaching module and taught a range health course to a Missy (Montgomery) Hansen’s high school agriculture class and assisted with teaching range judging.

2) During a producer’s in-the-field, hands-on training, Amanda dug small soil pits on different ecological sites to identify soil type. A discussion was then held with producers about how the soil type related to the plant community present. If the community present was significantly different than what was expected for that ecological site, contributing factors (i.e., historic plowing, inappropriate grazing, etc.) were discussed with the producer and steps were taken to correct the problem (i.e., reduction in stocking rate). Producers were also given maps custom-made for each one by Amanda diagraming the soil types on their operation.

3) This year, over 20 producers joined Amanda’s range monitoring program and she spent over 200 hours in the field assisting producers with setting up self-sustaining range monitoring sites. Producers picked monitoring methods that were simple, efficient, and repeatable. Discussion about historic and current management practices was held and future management goals were planned in accordance with the producer’s goals and current resource base. Each producer in the program received a complimentary range monitoring kit that they will be able to utilize in following years.

4) During Amanda’s visit with producers, record-keeping skills and methods were discussed. Although Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) were advocated for use, some producers were not comfortable with this method. Amanda worked with these producers to develop forms that could easily be filled out by hand or utilized within a computerized record-keeping system.

Intermediate Outcomes:
1) During the past year, we have continued to develope a WEMS utilizing the resources available to us. This model farm continues to utilize 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. We backgrounded half of our calves, then sold them. We finished the remaining half of our calves enabling us to track and compare expenses and profits from each system. We continue to monitor rangeland health in each of the tame and native pastures (totaling six). During the annual field day in June, we hosted 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. During on-farm visits, producers are introduced to the concept of WEMS. Producers are encouraged to develop WEMS on their own operations and utilize non-traditional methods of extending the grazing season to reduce dependency on harvested forages.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Overall farm production levels:

We determined:

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: Over 20 producers, their families, and employees took part in the in-field monitoring program. We enjoyed a much larger than average attendance at our silver anniversary field day. Over 20 horseback riders and nearly 100 wagon riders turned out for our field tour plus an additional 100 people for the concluding supper in town. Articles were printed in the annual report which has both a local and national distribution of 35,000 targeted both producers and rangeland professionals. This annual report is also posted on CGREC’s website. Seminars were given to diverse audiences representing all 50 states and several foreign countries. These seminars targeted rangeland professionals, academia, producers, and extension educators.


William Well

Box 505
Medina, ND 58467
Office Phone: 7014863247
Brian Kreft
Livestock Specialist
NDSU Central Grasslands REC
4824 48th Ave SE
Streeter, ND 58483
Office Phone: 7014243606
Bob Patton
Range Scientist
NDSU Central Grasslands REC
4824 48th Ave SE
Streeter, ND 58483
Office Phone: 7014243606
Missy Montgomery

FFA Liaison
Medina High School
PO Box 602
Medina, ND 58467
Russell Lorenz

1924 N. Grandview Lane
Bismarck, ND 58503
Office Phone: 7012233421
Kevin Sedivec
State Range Extension Specialist
North Dakota State University
Hultz Hall
Fargo, ND 58105
Office Phone: 7012317647
Fred Kirschenmann

Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag.
209 Curtiss Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-1050
Office Phone: 5152943711
Gene Goven

1824 15th Ave NW
Turtle Lake, ND 58575
Office Phone: 7014482405
Stan Melroe

12704 85th St. SE
Gwinner, ND 58040-9741
Office Phone: 7016782653
Keith Bartholomay

14618 57th St SE
Sheldon, ND 58068
Greg Lardy
Assoc. Professor/Research Scientist
NDSU Animal & Range Sciences Dept.,
Hultz Hall
Fargo, ND 58105
Jeff Printz

State Rangelands Specialist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
PO Box 1458
Bismarck,, ND 58502-1458
Office Phone: 7015302080
Amanda Hancock
Facilitator, Range and Natural Resource Specialist
NDSU Central Grasslands REC
4824 48th Ave SE
Streeter, ND 58483
Office Phone: 7014243606
Ron Bieber

11450 353 Ave
Leola, SD 57456