Increasing Sustainability of Livestock Production of the Northern Great Plains

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $199,736.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: North Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Douglas Landblom
North Dakota State University-Dickinson Research Extension Center

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, grass (misc. perennial), hay, sunflower, wheat
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, manure management, stockpiled forages, winter forage
  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, crop rotation, double cropping, multiple cropping, no-till, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, new enterprise development, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: chemical control, cultural control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    There is an increasing need for comparative research and demonstration of holistic practices in order to achieve greater adoption in this region. We will compare three whole-farm systems (Conventional, Integrated, and Yearling) to determine the effects on profitability and the agro-ecosystem. Using educational workshops, farmer-rancher tours, field day programming, and webinars, inexperienced producers will develop a greater awareness, attitudinal acceptance, and adoption of multi-tactic BMPs and Leader-Follower grazing techniques. When these techniques are integrated with managed grazing of annual and perennial forages, cover crops, and crop residues, production inputs and environmental impact will be reduced, resulting in greater sustainability and profit potential. With individualized and focused teaching, farmer-ranchers will learn how to prepare their own integrated system grazing plans as well as learn the power of crop diversification to grow nutrients and control weeds. Through our short-term and intermediate-term educational efforts, high school, undergraduate students, and farmer-ranchers become more knowledgeable about how natural agro-ecosystems work and that food can be produced in balance with nature. Our extensive outputs will range from educating students from high school through undergraduate student research projects to producer schools, producer-cooperator demonstration farm projects, numerous field days and workshops, and presentations at regional seminars and professional meetings. We will survey participants at the beginning and end of each learning event to determine knowledge and awareness change. We will also survey multiple year farmer-rancher attendees at the end of the grant to determine the extent that new knowledge has been adopted.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Objectives:
    1. Compare three cow-calf production systems (Conventional, Integrated, and Yearling) tailored for the semi-arid region of the Northern Great Plains from birth to final harvest to determine the effect of system on production and profitability using whole-systems econometric analyses and ranch profitability analyses.
    2. Evaluate the effect of systems integration on the biological responses of animals, crops, weeds, soil, and water conservation.
    3. Establish student alternative production system programs to include: High school and college student awareness programs, undergraduate summer internships and research projects.
    4. Conduct integrated crop-livestock grazing management workshops for producers, Extension educators and other government agency personnel.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.