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Photo: Herd of cattle grazing in tall grass in front of a pond.
Photo courtesy of Michael Brown, ARS.

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ARS Grazinglands Lab in Oklahoma Celebrates Anniversary

By Sharon Durham
October 20, 2008

EL RENO, Oklahoma—Festivities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Grazinglands Research Laboratory here are being held today at the historic Fort Reno Parade Grounds located at the center of the 11-square-mile facility. The celebration includes bus tours of the facility, reenactments of life at the historic fort during the 1880s, and a dinner.

ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"Since the lab was established, the researchers at El Reno have played a crucial role in supporting livestock producers with new technologies to help them operate more efficiently and profitably, while minimizing environmental impacts," said USDA Research, Education and Economics Under Secretary Gale Buchanan. ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling is also scheduled to address the attendees.

Participants in today's events include Congressional leaders, deans of agricultural colleges, regional agricultural leaders, researchers, agricultural producers and former employees of the El Reno lab.

The lab's mission is to develop technology that will allow producers to integrate crop, forage and livestock production into a sustainable system under variable climate, energy and market conditions. The lab is divided into two research groups.

The Forage and Livestock Production Research Unit looks for solutions that will help land resource managers produce a near-continuous supply of high-quality forages that can be converted into nutrient-rich lean red meat for human consumption, or harvested for conversion into bio-fuels. Scientists in that unit also work to identify or develop perennial cool-season grasses and legumes to decrease the cost of forage production, reduce the need for fossil fuel inputs and add diversity to farming.

Scientists at the lab's Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit seek to quantify interactive effects of land use, agricultural management, climate and the water cycle on agricultural and hydrologic systems. They are also evaluating and adapting seasonal climate forecasts and developing risk-based decision support tools for agricultural and natural resource management.

In conjunction with the 60th anniversary, a conference called "Farming with Grass: Achieving Sustainable Mixed Agricultural Landscapes in Grasslands Environments" is being held October 20-22 in Oklahoma City. The conference is hosted by the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS).

For questions or additional information regarding the conference, please contact Alan Franzluebbers, Program Committee Chair, at or Dewayne Johnson, SWCS Professional Development Director, at