New research and trends discussed at field day
August 1, 2008
The University of Wyoming SAREC facility in southeastern Wyoming hosted an annual field day on July 24th. Participants were able to see some of the current and ongoing research with livestock, crops, field management and ag technology. For those readers who attended, thank you. Researchers, field technicians and research staff all appreciate local interest and support for the research they are involved in. Following are some of the highlights of discussions and topics addressed.
As input costs rise, we will continue to look for ways of improving efficiency of production. I know this is a very general statement, but many issues build off of this general theme. Improving efficiency not only means measuring for feed efficiency in livestock, and selecting for improved feed efficiency, but it also addresses other production efficiencies. How far away can we profitably lease or rent pasture? All of our fuel and transportation costs will need to be re-evaluated as fuel prices rise.
Diversification in ranching has meant many things over the years. At different points in the last 35 years, diversification has meant marketing cattle at different times of the year, considering retained ownership, and alternative marketing strategies. On many operations, diversification has also meant that one or both spouses have held full or part-time jobs in addition to ranching.
In 2008, diversification has focused on developing alternative income sources. This includes developing hunting, fishing, and outfitting income off of the ranch, and more recently, investigating wind energy and carbon sequestration opportunities for the ranch as well. For producers in southeastern Wyoming, developing wind energy can mean both working with neighbors to develop landowner agreements to market to major wind energy companies, as well as investigating opportunities to develop on-farm wind generators to help ease electricity costs during the summer peak demand, especially for running pivots. Carbon sequestration is a slightly newer opportunity, but as regulations on greenhouse gasses continue to tighten, there may be opportunities in this area as well. It’s important to point out these opportunities, as they may have little or no impact to the land, while generating needed revenue for the operation.
Oilseed production continues to create additional interest for farming and ranching operations in southeast Wyoming. Several oilseed crops have the potential to work into dryland cropping rotations, providing some additional income diversity and alternatives to aid weed and crop disease management. As fertilizer costs continue to rise, and water availability becomes an issue, alternative crops that have the potential to reduce fertilizer and fuel inputs while building soil fertility are very important.
Probably the most positive aspect of the field day was the local producer interest and involvement with the research station. As we continue to adapt our operations to the new feed, fuel and fertilizer scenarios, it is important to explore what new crops, cropping systems and ag products work in our local environment. Ag Experiment Stations were originally established to serve this specific role for the ag community. While it is important to observe nationwide trends and national issues, local livestock and crop production questions still need to be addressed locally.
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Input costs have impacted land grant universities as well. College of Agriculture deans, directors and department heads at land grant universities continue to fight for their share of shrinking state and federal budgets. One of the best and easiest ways to help support your own Ag Colleges and Experiment Stations is to attend field days and provide input. Researchers, technicians and staff all appreciate local support.
Email Steve Paisley at SPaisley@uwyo.edu