Great Plains Grazing eNewsletter

From the Director

First, I wish you a great holiday season!  It is also a time that I want to thank everyone working on the Great Plains Grazing project for their great efforts this past year in making our project successful!
Our team consists of researcher scientists and extension specialists and students at six institutions in three states. I plan to visit several of them early next year in coordination with our intensive field campaign.
We are nearly four years into our five year project and have completed many of our original objective. As we approach the end of the project funding we are looking into additional funding opportunities to continue our good work towards finding solutions and getting them implemented.
Please contact me if you have any questions.

Tools and Apps

Cattle Comfort Advisor
As the weather gets colder cattle need extra maintenance energy. The Mesonet Cattle Comfort Advisor estimates cattle comfort levels based on data from the Oklahoma Mesonet and National Weather Service forecasts. The Mesonet Cattle Comfort Advisor runs continuously monitoring heat or cold stress on a year-round basis.


Need help using the Cattle Comfort Advisor? Check out the video and print tutorials.

One of the main goals of the Great Plains Grazing project is to train the next generation of producers and researchers to collectively address rising challenges. This month we are highlighting Rajen Bajgain's research as a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oklahoma.

My research
The major objective of this study was to compare and contrast carbon dioxide and water vapor fluxes between tallgrass prairie and winter wheat ecosystems to provide insights on how the conversion of tallgrass prairie grassland to winter wheat could impact the carbon and water budgets of the region.

Why I'm doing it
Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and tallgrass prairie are common land cover types in the Southern Plains of the United States. In recent years, agricultural expansion into native grasslands has been extensive, particularly either managed pasture or dryland crops such as wheat.This study will help us better understand the impacts of land conversion from grassland to winter wheat. 

How I do it
Eddy covariance systems were used to measure the net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange and water fluxes from winter wheat (2015) and tallgrass prairie (2015) ecosystems. The measurement system at both sites consists of a three-dimensional sonic anemometer (Model CSAT3, Campbell Scientific Inc., Logan, UT, USA) and an open path infrared gas analyzer (IRGA; model LI-7500, LI-COR Inc., Lincoln, NE, USA).

Important Findings
Both ecosystems were carbon sinks during the active growing season. Despite having the greater carbon sink potential based on higher diurnal rate and daily integrated values of net ecosystem exchange (NEE) than the tallgrass prairie, winter wheat ecosystems turned out to be a source of carbon when the carbon budgets for fallow summer period were included because ecosystem respiration dominated the NEE. Similarly, the evapotranspiration from the fallow period caused the winter wheat ecosystem to be less water efficient than the tallgrass prairie ecosystem although higher ecosystem water use efficiency (EWUE) was measured for winter wheat during the growing season than the tallgrass prairie. Considering the large expansion of winter wheat to grassland in the extended region, the change in the carbon and water fluxes (both in terms of magnitude and seasonal timing) could influence the elements of the lower atmosphere of the whole Southern Plains.

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Upcoming Events

OSU Winter Crop School
Location: Wes Watkins Center, OSU Campus, Oklahoma City, OK
Date: December 13-14, 2016
Registration: $125 until November 28, then $150
More information

Kansas Forage and Grasslands Council Winter Conference and Annual Meeting
Topics: Forage/Pasture Insect Control, Late Season Burning and Sericea Lespedeza Control, Range Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management; Forage/Pasture Fertility Management, Mineral Supplementation in Grazing Cattle, Wheat Grazing Management.
Location: Sedgwick County Extension Education Center, 7001 West 21st SRtreet, Wichita, KS
Date: December 13, 2016
Registration: $65 in advance, $85 at the door
More information


Recent Webinar


Multi-Species Cover Crop Mixtures:
Forage Quantity, Quality, and Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cathryn Davis
Graduate Student, Agronomy, Kansas State University

Watch it now

Cover crops offer potential benefits for improving soil health, but establishment and management costs can be expensive. Utilizing cover crops as supplemental forage can be a great approach to recovering those costs and benefits producers by integrating crop and animal production.

Cathryn Davis conducted her masters research in Agronomy at Kansas State University as part of the Great Plains Grazing team. She will present “Multi-Species Cover Crop Mixtures: Forage Quantity, Quality, and Cost Benefit Analysis,” a free webinar at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday, November 29, 2016. The webinar is open to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the costs and benefits of potential cover crop mixtures within a forage system.

Webinar participants can expect to learn:
  • Information about the quantity and quality of biomass grown in a two-year experiment.
  • Partial-budget economic comparisons between the different cover crop species.
Originally from northeastern Missouri, Ms. Davis completed a B.S. degree in Agronomy and Animal Science in 2014 at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO. She has completed the requirements for her M.S. degree in Agronomy at Kansas State University under the supervision of Dr. DeAnn Presley. Ms. Davis will graduate in December 2016 and hopes to find a position working with sustainable agricultural producers, and enjoys working in systems that integrate crops and livestock.

The webinar series aims to provide research-based information, and is targeted for producers and extension agents. Previous webinars are archived and more information is available at



Several project team members presented on their research at the joint annual meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. 

Methane Emissions from Grazing Beef Cattle Quantified with Three Methods.
Todd, R., Moffet, C., Neely, J. A., Turner, K., Steiner, J. L., & Cole, N. A.

Comparison of Tillage Treatments on Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Established Winter Wheat Production.

Peterson, B., & Steiner, J. L.

Grl-Fluxnet: A Network of Eddy Covariance Systems in the Southern Great Plains.

Gowda, P. H., Steiner, J. L., Wagle, P., & Northup, B.

Multi-Species Cover Crop Mixtures: Forage Quantity and Quality for Fall Grazing.
Davis, C., Presley, D. R., Sassenrath, G., & Farney, J. K.

Drought: A Best Management Practice Adoption Deterrent or Promoter?

King, A. E. H., Tomlinson, P., & Baker, L.

Seasonal Greenhouse Gas and Soil Nutrient Cycling in Semi-Arid Native and Non-Native Perennial Grass Pastures.

Peterson, B., Steiner, J. L., Arango, M., & Rice, C. W.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Multi-Species Cover Crop Mixtures Used for Supplemental Forage.

Davis, C., Presley, D. R., Farney, J. K., & Sassenrath, G.

An Initial Compilation of Soil Analysis Data in the Southern Great Plains.
Abit, J., & Arnall, D. B.

Greenhouse Gas Emission from Beef-Cattle Grazing Systems in Temperate Grasslands. Rivera Zayas, J., Arango, M., Notenbaert, N., Rice, C. W., & Olson, K. C.


Great Plains Grazing is a coordinated effort by a regional network of researchers and extension specialists to adapt grazing strategies to changing conditions.
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