Paul E. Nyren, Director, Central Grasslands Research Extension Center
Table of Contents
• Research Facilities and New Developments
• Livestock Management
• Forage Production
Welcome to the 2003 Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC) Annual Report. This year marked the 22nd year of operation for the Center. We continue to work to conduct research that will improve the management of the Coteau grasslands and to increase the income of those who live in this region. The CGREC operates on 5300 acres of land in Stutsman and Kidder counties and consists of approximately 3800 acres of native mixed grass prairie, and 1500 acres in cultivated annual and perennial forages and crops, as well as building sites, etc. The CGREC employs eight permanent staff two of which work part time. In addition to the permanent staff, the Center employs eight to ten seasonal workers to assist during the field season and also provides funding for two graduate students who conduct research required to obtain their graduate degrees from NDSU. Click on the following links to view their projects:
• Fertilization of Extremely Grazed and Moderately Grazed Mixed-Grass Prairie with Slow Release Phosphorus and Urea
• Soil Health in Relation to Grazing
• Interaction of Simulated Drought and Grazing on Rangeland.
Research Facilities and New Developments
Research at CGREC over the past 20 years has been conducted in response to input from local and area producers who comprise the 12-member Advisory Committee at the Center. In 2002, the Center was equipped with video conferencing facilities and high speed internet connection. These two additions will assist with future plans to incorporate a visiting scholar program at CGREC. The Coteau region of North Dakota is unique to the nation and offers unlimited opportunity for scholars to work on projects that cannot successfully be conducted elsewhere. Visiting scholars will bring with them expertise and, in some cases, funding to conduct the research. North Dakota State University and the CGREC will provide the outdoor laboratory and facilities for researchers who may stay for a few days or several months. As a preliminary step in this process the CGREC has recently entered into negotiations with the Chinese Academy of Science-Institute of Botany and the Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station (IMGERS) to have one of their senior scientists work for six months with scientists at the CGREC to develop a joint project and write papers on research from both centers. The IMGERS is located in an area with a climate and vegetation similar to North Dakota.
The Center maintains a permanent herd of mixed British breed cattle for research purposes. Three hundred thirty-five cow-calf pairs were maintained during the grazing season of 2003. This number is down from previous years as we liquidated our fall calving herd due to budget cuts. The average weaning weight for calves was 522 lbs at 178 days of age or 2.94 lbs per day of age. The majority of our studies are conducted with cow-calf units while the grazing intensity trial, because of its size and nature, utilizes yearling heifers. These animals are research tools which supply us with data on the type of vegetation they prefer and the amount of weight they gain during the grazing season.
The Center produces nearly all of the feed consumed by the livestock on the Center (table 1). The above average rainfall in May contributed to a much better hay crop in 2003 than in 2002. Many of our seeded alfalfa fields yielded two cuttings of hay and averaged over 2.5 ton/acre for both cuttings. As part of our mission to explore new technology and to evaluate new and innovative farm and ranch practices, the Center evaluated the process of baleage. This process utilized a machine to wrap the bales in plastic while they still contained over 50% moisture. For this evaluation we rented a machine and utilized winter rye that was seeded in the fall of 2002. The rye grew extremely well with the above normal precipitation in May and was harvested in the early bloom stage the second week of June. The 80 acre field produced over 3.8 tons/acre. The rye was swathed, baled and hauled to the headquarters where it was wrapped and stored. The advantage of this process is the short time between cutting, baling and hauling. Many times heavy forage crops like rye or forage oats or barley get rained on between the time they are cut and baled. This process eliminated this possibility. The disadvantage is the extra cost of hauling and processing the hay through the bale wrapping machine. Moisture content of the forage was about 51% when delivered to the bale wrapper. The bales were made considerably smaller than the usual dry hay bales yet weighed 1600 lbs each. Two loaders, one in the field and one at the bale wrapper, were also required. Once the operators got used to the bale wrapping machine it worked very well and was nearly automatic once the bales were placed on the platform. A total of 336 bales were wrapped. The forage has yet to be fed but a lab analysis indicated a 1% crude protein increase for the baleage over the hay. Had the rye hay been rained on the forage analysis may have been different.
Table 1. Forage Analysis of Selected Forages Harvested at CGREC in 2003
|Forage||% Dry Matter Content||
|% Crude Protein||% Acid Detergent Fiber||% Neutral Detergent Fiber||% Phosphorus|
|Naked Oat Hay||92.71||10.03||11.32||34.28||62.5||0.26|
|2nd Cut Alfalfa||89.53||12.22||22.18||31.81||46.22||0.3|
|Haybet Barley Hay||91.82||8.83||15.64||32.94||63.32||0.38|