An Alternative to Traditional Wheat Stubble Management Using Sheep to Control Pests and Improve Soil Nutrient Cycling

2002 Annual Report for SW00-015

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $166,147.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $87,869.00
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Patrick Hatfield
Department of Animal and Range Sciences
Co-Investigators:
Sue Blodgett
Montana State University, Dept. Entomology
Dr. Hayes Goosey
Montana State University
Duane Griffith
Montana State University, Ag Econ and Ext Dept

An Alternative to Traditional Wheat Stubble Management Using Sheep to Control Pests and Improve Soil Nutrient Cycling

Summary

A comparison of over wintering wheat stem larval populations in sheep-grazed, burned, tilled, and control plots at four sites in Montana demonstrated that percent larval mortality was greater (P < 0.01) in grazed (67.2%) compared to tilled (50.9%), burned (31.1%) and control (47.6%) plots. In addition, Sheep grazing did not negatively impact soil compaction and demonstrated potential as a method for weed control in grain fallow systems.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Compare burning, grazing, and tilling wheat stubble fields in a multi-farm study on: 1) over-wintering wheat stem sawfly larvae and emergence of adult populations. 2) soil nutrient profiles, nutrient cycling, and soil compaction.3)total biomass including wheat stubble, cheatgrass, volunteer wheat and mustard weed 4)develop an economic model to evaluate long-term cost benefits of the various methods of wheat stubble management and their respective outcomes. 5)Develop and conduct large, multiform field demonstrations. Communicate results to producers, students, scientists, and public on advantages of implementing sustainable alternative grain residue management strategies.

Accomplishments/Milestones

We have completed the first two years of field data collections. In 2002, we published and presented the results of our first year’s data at the annual Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science Meetings.

Goosey H. B., T. M. Spezzano, P. G. Hatfield, S. L. Blodgett, P. M. Denke, and R. W. Kott. 2002, Using sheep in grain production systems to reduce pesticide use: I. Control of Wheat Stem Sawfly infestation in wheat stubble. West. Sec. Amer. Soc. Anim. Sci. 53.197-200.
Spezzano, T. M., H. B. Goosey , P. G. Hatfield, S. L. Blodgett, P. M. Denke, and R. W. Kott. 2002, Using sheep in grain production systems to reduce pesticide use: II.Comparing stubble grazing with tillage and burning on weed and soil characteristics. West. Sec. Amer. Soc. Anim. Sci. 53.208-211.

We are currently working on objectives 4 and 5. In January of 2003 we will conduct a number of seminars at county level extension functions in grain producing areas. We have made good progress on our economic model and are currently conducting large (commercial scale) demonstration/research projects on a number of grain farms with cooperating sheep producers.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This research is generating major interest on the part of Montana Sheep Producers. Although our results on sawfly control are very promising, our results on sheep’s ability to help reduce grain producers’ highest variable cost – weed control in fallow management- is is very exciting. Looking forward, we believe that our current and future research efforts will foster an integration of sheep into grain production that is beneficial to both the sheep and grain producer.

Collaborators:

George Orcutt

Grain Producer
Ledger, MT 59456
Office Phone: 4066272227
John Helle

Sheep Producer
Helle Rambouillet
1350 Stone Creek Road
Dillon, MT 59725
Office Phone: 4066836686
Terry Peters

tjandkids@montana.com
Grain Producer
Less-Terr Farms
P.O. Box 85A
Ledger, MT 59456
Office Phone: 4066272320
Gary Broyles

Grain/Livestock Producer
Rapelje, MT 59067
Office Phone: 4066632115
Mickey Iverson

Grain Producer
Conrad, MT 59425
Office Phone: 4062783363
Terry Spezzano

Graduate Student
Montana State University, Dept. Animal and Range
119 Linfield Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717-2900
Office Phone: 4069943727
Dave Miley

Grain Producer
Conrad, MT 59425
Office Phone: 4062787150
John Wraith

jwraith@montana.edu
Associate Professor
Montana State University, Dept. LS&ES
334 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717-3120
Office Phone: 4069941997
John Paugh

Sheep Producer
525 coulee Dr.
Belgrade, MT 59718
Office Phone: 4065859356