Central Grasslands REC, Streeter


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A Walk Through the Pasture: News from CGREC

Kevin Sedivec, Interim Director – Central Grasslands Research Extension Center

Kevin Sedivec


Spring has arrived and calving season has started.

The first heifer calved March 12, and cows started in early April. With new life on the prairie comes a new adventure for the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC).




We had a few firsts this winter at the CGREC. Our first bale grazing study went off as planned (well almost) and the cows seemed to do very well. They performed better than expected – even with three blizzards and one winter storm dumping more than 50 inches of snow in a seven-week span, temperatures below minus 20 °F and Mother Nature testing our spirits. We finally had to bring the cows home when our water tanks were lost in snowdrifts and fences were disappearing as snow piled up.



Range and Forage Lab


Our Range and Forage Lab was finished in January and we started moving in equipment. Michael Undi, Rick Bohn, Stephanie Becker and Jessalyn Bachler started working in the lab, weighing, grinding and prepping samples from the 2016 field season. We truly appreciate our North Dakota Legislature for funding this project during the 2013-2015 session.

We installed a new lighting system in our livestock pen area and working facility to help with working cattle and conducting research. It makes a safer environment when working cattle during the dark, long evenings in the winter months.



Fara Brummer newWe said “see you later” (never liked goodbyes) to Fara Brummer, our area Extension livestock systems specialist, as she went back home to a new job with Oregon State University and new adventures with her family. We will truly miss Fara because she was not only a great Extension specialist who left her mark with the NDSU Extension Service, but she was a great person who had a passion for working with ranchers and county agents. It was my pleasure to know Fara because she instilled some new life in this old state specialist.

Scott Alm v2


We welcomed a new staff member to the CGREC. Scott Alm was hired Jan. 23 as our new forage specialist. Scott brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge that will address the needs of our ranchers and forage growers on new and improved forage research. Scott worked at the CGREC as a summer seasonal worker while he was pursuing his B.S. degree in Animal Science from NDSU. We look forward to you meeting Scott.


We have had the pleasure of hosting a Fulbright Program student at the center this winter. Friederike “Rike” Baumgaertner is from Germany and is working with Carl Dahlen on our collaborative livestock reproduction projects that started in 2016. Rike has been a great asset to the center, helping with data collection and analysis, working cattle, and assisting with day-to-day operations.



Finally, with the 2017 grazing season approaching, new grazing research trials will start in May:

  • Ryan Limb, range scientist at NDSU, will be conducting a new study addressing disturbance ecology on our grasslands of the Missouri Coteau. Ryan will concentrate his efforts on studying plant community changes with cattle grazing and spring burned patches, and cattle grazing with a combination of spring and summer burned patches. The overriding question is, “Can we reduce Kentucky bluegrass while increasing native grasses and diversity of flowering forbs and improve livestock performance?”
  • Torre Hovick, range scientist and wildlife ecologist at NDSU, will study the impacts of these treatments on pollinator species and migratory passerine birds. With new policies being developed to increase native pollinators and declining bird populations, we must address this serious question to be proactive in understanding the habitat needs of these declining invertebrates and birds.
  • Devan McGranahan, range scientist at NDSU, will study the impacts of these treatments on the processes: How does cattle grazing and different seasons of fire impact plant growth? If we can figure out the mechanisms behind how certain plants, such as Kentucky bluegrass, thrive “or die” due to grazing and fire, we can prescribe future management strategies that enhance the native plant community. The goal is to create a proper functioning community that creates a stable plant community to support our livestock while creating a landscape that provides habitat for wildlife, including our threatened and endangered species.
  • Caley Gasch, soil scientist, will study impacts of Kentucky bluegrass within the rangeland community on the soil chemical and physical properties. If we can determine how Kentucky bluegrass changes soil function and health, then we can determine management strategies that best enhances plant community function while sustaining our livestock herd.
  • I will start a study addressing grazing efficiency. My project will be designed to study different rotational grazing schedules to determine levels of harvest efficiency. My goal is to determine if we can increase harvest efficiency of the plants, thus adding value to the land and more money to our ranchers, if we rotate fast, at a moderate schedule or slow, or don’t rotate at all.
  • Lastly, Ryan and I will study different management strategies on western snowberry (buckbrush) density and forage quality. Western snowberry has become a nuisance shrub to much of our rangelands found within the Missouri Coteau. We need to have a better understanding of how to control the spread of this plant without totally eliminating it, and in doing so, whether we can increase its palatability to increase cattle grazing.

Well, my short article has become too long! Let me leave you with an invitation to the CGREC 2017 Annual Field Day. Our field day will be July 10 and take place at the center. We will showcase our new studies and provide site stops showing our livestock research, including Michael Undi’s bale grazing study; Carl Dahlen, Joel Caton and Lauren Hannah’s livestock reproduction, behavior and systems research; and Scott Alm’s new alfalfa research.

We are excited and thrilled to have Trent Loos at our field day. Trent is best known for his radio show “Dakota Trails and Tales.” He will conduct his radio show at the center and speak to you about “Loos Tales” after supper.

Until our next walk through the pasture, may your calving season be stress-free and fruitful, spring rains provide the nutrients to grow a great crop, and you and your family enjoy the fresh smells and sounds of spring.

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