Degree Day Modeling and Economic Considerations of Insects and Weeds in Sheep Grazed Alfafla, Grain, and Range Production Systems

2014 Annual Report for SW11-086

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $206,700.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Hayes Goosey
Montana State University

Degree Day Modeling and Economic Considerations of Insects and Weeds in Sheep Grazed Alfafla, Grain, and Range Production Systems


All of the project’s original proposed objectives (listed below) have been met and were submitted with the 2013 annual report.

Objective 1 has been addressed with all field work being completed. Furthermore, all data has been analyzed and summarized in in three manuscripts which have been submitted to two separate peer reviewed journals for publication.

Objective 2 has been addressed in the three publications.

Objective 3 has been previously addressed and reported.

Since the inception of the project, we have had a graduate student working towards a Master’s Degree. Mr. Sean McKenzie completed the requirements for a Master’s Degree in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University in Fall 2014 and has since moved into the job market.

Additionally, and in conjunction with our 2012 producer pre-test, we implemented the follow-up test in February 2014. Producers returned the post-test at such a low rate that we were unable to make any statistical comparisons between pre- and post-test answers. As a result of this we attended the 2014 MSU Extension Pest Management tour to capture post exposure data.

An additional objective was proposed and approved in our 2014 no-cost extension. Our objective was to implement a K-12 educational project by delivering an assessment program to middle school students. These tests were designed to determine the effectiveness of new greenhouse modification and sustainable agriculture curriculum objectives in both General and Life Sciences Classes. As a follow up to this, we also proposed to further implement this K-12 educational component by tracking changes in student behavior regarding their class choices and science fair projects. We have collected survey data on student class choices. Student will begin developing science fair projects in February 2015, at which time we will be able assess any changes in project topics as a result of these curriculum changes.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Proposal Objectives:

1) Compare various intensities (0-200 DD) and model results of sheep grazing (fall and spring) and a no-input control on:
     a) pea aphid and ASC populations in alfalfa.
     b) change in alfalfa field plant community and alfalfa aftermath.
     c) pollinator, predator, and parasitoid populations in alfalfa.
     d) Carabidae spp. diversity between sheep grazed cropland, improved pasture, and

2) Develop an economic decision support tool to evaluate long term cost-benefits of sheep grazing in alfalfa production.

3) Develop and conduct large, multi-farm demonstrations. Communicate results to producers, students, scientists, and the public on the advantages of incorporating prescriptive sheep grazing into alfalfa and cereal production systems.


  1. As mentioned earlier we have completed all field work, data analyses, economic analyses, and data summarization. We have submitted three publications for peer-review to two journals; Environmental Entomology and Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.
  2. Mr. Sean McKenzie completed the requirements for a Master’s Degree in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences.
  3. We participated in the 2014 MSU Extension Pest Management tour and did collect producer data regarding the implementation livestock grazing into farming systems as a sustainable production practice. Our preliminary results indicated there is low to moderate interest, at this time, primarily due to the logistics of partnering different enterprises. It is also worthy to note, the pest management tour offers pesticide recertification points to producers which may ultimately bias the demographics of the attendees.
  4. We have currently given and collected all tests from the General and Life science students. We are currently waiting for students to begin selecting science fair projects so that we may assess additional behavioral changes associated with the changes in the science curriculum. This selection process is slated to begin in February 2015.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The three publications we submitted are currently in the review process. When these manuscripts are published, we will have contributed the first set of data on the ecological and economic consequences of integrating sheep grazing into market gardens. We will also contribute substantially to the knowledge base of how grazing livestock (sheep) influence beneficial Carabid beetles.

As stated in previous annual reports, this was implemented on over 21,000 hectares of land with access to over 3,000 head of domestic sheep and 2,000 head of domestic cattle. We feel this reflects the value that a growing portion of the agricultural community places on these types of research and education projects.

The continued support offered to us by the Livingston Public School Districts has, and will continue to be, a valued component of our educational program. We have contributed to the implementation of their Farm to School Grant which will be impacting future students’ learning and behavior by implementing the small but effective research project. Outcomes we associate with this is an increased awareness of the entire student body to the issues involved in sustainable production of food and fiber.

Mr. Sean McKenzie, whose graduate program was supported by this award, has completed his degree and has moved into the job market. His presence there will, over the course of his career, produce many contributions to the overarching theme of sustainable production. This will generate many beneficial impacts and positive outcomes for advancing production through scientific discovery.


John Baucus

Box 1683
Helena, MO 59624
Office Phone: 4064589468
Dr. Rodney Kott
Montana State University
Wool Lab
Bozeman, MT 59717-2900
Office Phone: 4069945602
Duane Griffity
Assistant Professor
Montana State University
210 B Linfield Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
Office Phone: 4069942580
Dr. Kevin O’Neill
Montana State University
Marsh Lab 20A
Bozeman, MT 59717
Office Phone: 4069942333
Bob Lehfeldt
Box 175
Lavina, MT 59046
Office Phone: 4066362731
John Helle
1350 Stone Creek Rd
Dillon, MT 59725
Office Phone: 4066836686
Dan Durhan
Soil Conservationist
402 S. Main
Sheradin, MO 59749
Office Phone: 4068425741
Dr. Fabian Menalled
Assistant Professor
Montana State University
Leon Johnson 719
Bozeman, MT 59717
Office Phone: 4069944783
Dr. Greg Johnson
103 ABB
Bozeman, MT 59717-2900
Office Phone: 4069943875
Les Thomason

Box 12
Terry, MT 59349
Office Phone: 4068532494