Great Plains Grazing eNewsletter

From the Director

It is definitely fall and I hope you are enjoying it. Leaves are turning and  falling rapidly in Manhattan! Our project is moving ahead rapidly. Every day I am seeing more research publications and extension outputs!  I will be giving a summary of our project at the USDA climate change PI meeting in San Francisco in December and will be sharing some exciting results of our research.

We are working on putting together a couple of meetings/symposiums that we will sponsor that will occur in the future. One is a conference on grasslands for fellow scientists, extension personnel and stakeholders and the other will be a symposium at the ASA/CSSA/SSSA annual meetings in 2018. I will keep you informed as that moves forward.

Please contact me as questions come up.

Tools and Apps

Grazing Management: Toxic Plants for Android, soon to be release for iPhone
Toxic Crops for Livestock was developed for livestock producers interested in grazing forage crops. Plants listed have been evaluated for safety in regards to metabolic or toxicity issues for multiple classifications of livestock species. All plants will have a score for the usefulness of the plant as grazing forage for livestock. The ranking is based on a 0-4 scale where 0 is not recommended to 4 being highly recommended. The rankings are based on safe consumption of the plant, forage quality, and yield potential.


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 Johanie Rivera Zayas' research as a Ph.D. student in Agronomy at Kansas State University.

My research
The research that I am conducting focuses on the contribution of cattle biological residues to GHG emissions from grasslands.This information will be useful to understand potential changes in cattle grazing systems in order to enhance resilience of cattle grazing systems in dynamic land use, mitigate climate change and support food production.

Why I'm doing it
Greenhouse gases (GHG) contribute towards both global warming and the depletion of stratospheric ozone. The agricultural sector contributes 9% of the total GHG emissions in the United States. The management of animal residues, such as manure, represent 6,572 kt and 59 kt for CH4 and N2O emissions, respectively. Field burning of lands represent a minor source of CH4 and N2O emissions. Mitigation of these two GHGs is important approach for reducing the cattle sector’s contribution to and understanding its impact on climate change.

How I do it
The study site is located at Konza Prairie Biological Station in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I collect gas samples from soils in three watersheds each of which are grazed by one cow/calf pair per 0.40 ha from May 1st - October 1st. The burning regimes for C1A is yearly burned, while C3A and C3B were burned every three years on offset years. Each site has five replications with four sampling points in a 45 min period. Gas samples were collected on a weekly to biweekly basis (depending on weather) using the static chamber methodology. Gas samples were analyzed for CO2, CH4 and N2O using a Bruker Scion 456 Gas Chromatograph. Results were analyzed using the Hutchinson-Mosier method and linear equations (Pedersen et al., 2010). Statistical Analysis System (SAS) 9.3 was used to analyze data using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) method (α=0.05) and a Post-hoc comparisons with Tukey at α=0.05

Important Findings
Preliminary data showed how grazing systems on grasslands located in Kansas can uptake enough CH4 and N2O for maintain a net balance with the emissions from the cattle. This describes a grazing system with non or minimum detrimental environmental effect. At the same time, we used natural areas for protein production and allow agricultural lands for crops production.

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In Case You Missed It

Recent articles, blog posts, and other timely info from/about our team as well as news items of interest to beef producers.

Herbicide choices affect cover crop options, management
October 2016 - James Locke, Ag News and Views
While cover crops have the potential for all these benefits, they also add another layer of complexity to the production system. Cover crop plant selection, establishment, residue management, water use and weed management must all be taken into consideration when adding them to the production system.

Read full article here

Precision Nutrient Management in Forage Systems
October 1 2016 - Brian Arnall, Down and Dirty with NPK
The ultimate goal of any precision nutrient management tool should be this: producing the highest quality output (in this case forage) with the least amount of input – ultimately, optimizing efficiencies and maximizing profits.
Read full article here

A “GOOD” Rain
September 15, 2016 - Al Sutherland, Weather and Agriculture: A Plains Perspective
So what is a “good” rain? For ranchers it means a rain that is timely. The rain needs to fall often enough to keep the grass growing. No rain. No grass.

Read full article here


Upcoming Webinar

Precision Nutrient Management in Forage Systems
Brian Arnall
Assistant Professor, Precision Nutrient Management
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Oklahoma State University

Register Now

The goal of precision management in forage systems is to producer the highest quality forage output with the least amount of input.
Great Plains Grazing team member and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Specialist, Brian Arnall, will present “Precision Nutrient Management in Forage Systems,” a free webinar at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on Monday,October 31, 2016. The webinar is open to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of what consumers need to know about the impact of beef cattle on the environment and their role in the process from purchase through consumption.

Webinar participants can expect to learn:

  • Benefits of soil testing
  • Contexts in which different soil sampling methods are useful
  • How precision management may impact yield in forage systems

Dr. Arnall’s extension, teaching, and research efforts are focused on nutrient management with an emphasis on site specific techniques. He works closely with extension educators and industry personnel to improve nutrient management practices that will lead to increased profitability for producers. He currently has several ongoing studies that are focused on fertilizer management of canola production. Dr. Arnall is also researching the impact of soil acidity on multiple crops and the impact of N management strategies on yield.

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



New article in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Wagle, P., Xiao, X., Gowda, P., Basara, J., Brunsell, N., Steiner, J., & K.C, A. (2017). Analysis and estimation of tallgrass prairie evapotranspiration in the central United States. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 232, 35–47.
Read the full article here

New article in International Journal of Biometeorology
Bajgain, R., Xiao, X., Basara, J., Wagle, P., Zhou, Y., Zhang, Y., & Mahan, H. (2016). Assessing agricultural drought in summer over Oklahoma Mesonet sites using the water-related vegetation index from MODIS. International Journal of Biometeorology, 1–14.
Read the full article here


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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