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Chadron Range Management Day highlights battle with cheatgrass

Many of the participants at the Range Management Day said they'd like to attend another one. Courtesy photo

Cheatgrass is one of a rancher’s worst enemies; right up there with prairie dogs and drought. So much so that the Range Management Day’s emphasis was solely on cheatgrass.

Nevin Price, Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District Resource Technician, coordinated the Jan. 14 event at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.

Dr. Mitch Stevenson, of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, started the day by discussing “grazing management for rangeland health and cheatgrass control,” Price said. “Overgrazing leads to cheatgrass being able to take over.”

Stevenson continued, Price said, with referencing several studies in which the focus was “grazing cheatgrass down to nothing when it’s green, then winter grazing as well. The crude protein content is there and the [total digestible nutrient] content is there to be able to graze it.”

“We can’t say that it is a cheatgrass control because of the way it’s labeled, but they have found that if they put it on a cheatgrass area, it will greatly reduce, almost eradicate, it within three years.” Nevin Price, Chadron Range Management Day coordinator

The highlight of the day, Price said, was Cheryl Schwartzkopf, of Converse County Weed and Pests, who spoke of MB906 Soil Microbe Development and Utilization for Cheatgrass.

“The soil microbe is listed as a soil amendment,” Price said. “We can’t say that it is a cheatgrass control because of the way it’s labeled, but they have found that if they put it on a cheatgrass area, it will greatly reduce, almost eradicate, it within three years.”

The microbe is not legal for use in Nebraska, but is in Wyoming, Price said, “We are trying to get the right mix of agencies to try to push to use of MB906 in Nebraska.”

Doak Nickerson, Nebraska Forest Service Forester, discussed the need for more stock grazing in the Pine Ridge Reservation of Nebraska.

“We’ve really noticed the need of increasing grazing numbers in Pine Ridge,” Price said. “They need to get cattle or some kind of grazer out there.”

Additionally, Nickerson said the trees and timber within the reservation need to be thinned.

“Looking at pictures of fires that had come through, there was a lot of litter and fine fuels that super heated the canopy,” Price said. “We need to thin trees and do timber management so heat can escape and reduce the threat of fire climbing to trees.”

The day’s other speakers included: Gary Stone UNL Extension Educator, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, on chemical herbicide management and use on cheatgrass; Tony Perlinski, CSC Applied Sciences Assistant Professor, on effectively using fire to bate cheatgrass; and Bryan Kahl, on Nebraska Resources Conservation Service assistance.

The 110 attendees had the option to tour the newly built Rangeland Complex at Chadron State featuring modern laboratories and classroom facilities for analyzing soils and studying animals, a downdraft table in a lab for livestock and wildlife necropsies, office space for instructors, and an arena for the rodeo team’s use as well as equine classes.

“We want people to know what some of their tax dollars are going to work for,” Price said.

Of those who attended, 56 filled out a survey and all indicated they would like to attend another Range Management event.

“We’re going to go ahead and do another Range Day again next year,” Price said. “Everyone gave us a great series of topics for next year.”

For more information or to get in contact with any of the featured speakers, contact Price at 308-432-6190.


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