Director's Comments
Paul E. Nyren


Welcome to the 2000 Grass-n-Beef Research Review. This publication represents the work of many people who have contributed their time to its success. Besides the people whose names you see accompanying each article, there are those who work behind the scenes whose expertise and dedication have contributed to make this report possible. We wish to acknowledge these individuals and express our appreciation for their contribution to the success of this publication.

In an effort to expand this publication, we are for the first time including sections from the Research Extension Centers at Hettinger and Dickinson. We will also, for the first time, be expanding our distribution into southwest North Dakota, and the states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming through the Tri-State Livestock News. We would like to welcome our new readers.

North Dakota has seven Research Extension Centers each charged with the mission of conducting research that is pertinent to its area of the state. Figure 1 shows each of the centers and the area of the state covered based on similar vegetation, soil types, etc. While each center serves a particular area much of its research is applicable to a wider area and most of the crop and livestock research is pertinent to a wide area of North America. We hope you find this publication educational and informative. We strive to bring you articles we feel will help you understand range and forage production and livestock production on forage based feeds.

The mission of the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC) is: 1) To increase the range-carrying capacity of native range with emphasis on conservation. 2) Stabilization of grass production to determine how to best compensate for the variability of the weather as it influences forage production.  3) Identification of different management systems on beef production in the central region of the state.  4) Exploration of increased use of crop residues and by-products for the maintenance of the cow herd.  5) To disseminate research results and information for the benefit of the state of North Dakota.  With this in mind I would like to give you some highlights about rangeland in the Coteau and the research at the CGREC:
The Missouri Coteau is a moraine highland deposited in a broad band across the state of North Dakota by a receding glacier some 10,000 years ago. The land is characterized by rolling, grassy hills, rocky soils and wetlands and lakes are common. While many acres of the Coteau have been converted to cropland, much of the land is highly erodible, best suited to the production of perennial forages. These rangeland pastures are an important resource for North Dakota livestock producers.
Data from the 12-year grazing intensity study is answering questions about the impact of not grazing Coteau area grasslands. Data indicates that the absence of grazing significantly decreases the productivity and species diversity of native range as does overgrazing.
Remote sensing studies are evaluating various ways to increase the efficiency of monitoring range land productivity.
A comparative study on the relative benefits of feeding naked oat hay vs. corn silage to backgrounding diets for beef heifers indicated that diets of 37% dry matter of either crop produced similar weight gains, feed intake, and feed efficiency. An economic comparison of these two crops indicated that while costs of production and yields will vary from year to year in this study the naked oats produced 2.9 tons per acre and cost $89.56/acre to produce while the corn produced 2.2 tons per acre (on a similar dry matter basis) and cost $139.60/acre to produce.
A study to evaluate self-limiting supplements to yearling steers found that salt was the most effective additive.
Cooperative studies with the NRCS Plant Materials Center in Bismarck are evaluating new grass varieties under grazing.
A fall calving herd has been established to evaluate the best management practices for maximizing the returns to this type of livestock management. Studies include an economic evaluation of the market potential, running the spring weaned animals on grass for the summer season, and supplementation of the fall cows at various times of the year.

Studies on the effect of grazing intensity on rangeland hydrology show that water infiltration on poor condition rangeland is 0.5 inches per hour while on good to excellent rangeland it is over 2 inches per hour. Any rainfall event that exceeds the infiltration rate will produce runoff or loss of soil water. Additional data from the CGREC indicates that this loss of soil water equates to a loss of 65 lbs/acre of forage for every inch of lost soil moisture. A rainfall event of 2 inches/hour would therefore equate to a loss of 1.5 inches of moisture or 97.5 lbs/acre of forage on poor condition rangeland or nearly 4 more days grazing per acre. With gains of 2.5 lbs/head/day this would equate to 9.75 lbs/acre extra beef or at $0.75/lb an extra $7.31/acre. Therefore improving infiltration on poor condition rangeland can increase beef production by nearly 10 lbs/acre–an added income of more than $7.00/acre. Research is also underway by NDSU graduate student Jay Volk to study the impact of slow release fertilizers on poor condition rangeland. The goal of this research is to compare the recovery of overgrazed and moderately grazed rangeland on highly erodible land in terms of aboveground biomass production and species composition changes with various fertilization treatments.
A new cooperative research program began in June 1999 between CGREC and NDSU Animal and Range Science Department. Graduate student Wendi Rogers is conducting research on the effects of simulated drought and grazing intensity on a northern mixed- grass prairie.

Grasslands of the Great Plains region are important to the economic well being of the livestock industry of the Midwest. There are 13 million acres of rangeland in the state of North Dakota. Increased profitability of only $1.00 per acre could achieve $13 million annually for the state's livestock industry. Thirteen million acres of rangelands equate to approximately 6.5 million animal unit months (AUMs) of grazing in the state per year. Long term research evaluating grazing systems shows that 1.5 to 2.0 acres of good to excellent condition rangeland in North Dakota are needed to adequately maintain a cow and her calf for one month (one animal unit month (AUM) at an average conservative cost of $80 per AUM. This translates to approximately $520 million that is spent annually in communities and businesses throughout the state.


Paul E. Nyren, Director
Central Grasslands Research Extension Center
4824 48th Ave SE
Streeter, ND 58483
E-mail: grasland@ndsuext.nodak.edu


NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center

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