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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Natural Resource Management Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Specific objectives of this research include: Objective 1. Provide management guidelines to improve the conservation and enhancement of agroecosystem function and structure in grasslands of the NGP. Objective 2. Improve the viability of cattle production on the NGP by providing management strategies that increase the efficiency of forage utilization. Objective 3. Develop methods to alter the composition of beef so that it better meets the emerging market demand for healthier beef.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
An automated rainout shelter will be used to simulate drought conditions and test if early-season water stress and (or) defoliation following water stress will have greater impact on productivity of switchgrass or western wheatgrass or on mixtures of western wheatgrass and alfalfa. The influence of soil attributes on growth characteristics of perennial grasses will be determined with greenhouse evaluations using soil collected under native vegetation and under severely weed invaded plant communities at four sites between Mandan, ND and Pierre, SD. Field-based estimates of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide will be used to determine if soil emissions of nitrous oxide offset carbon uptake by moderately grazed mixed-grass prairie. Satellite-based estimates of plant canopy carbon:nitrogen ratio will be determined for five native rangeland pastures and these estimates will be used to determine if they can be used to estimate forage quality for pastures on the northern Great Plains. Trials with cattle will be conducted to determine if grazing higher quality forages with supplemental flaxseed and (or) forages containing condensed tannin will result in reduced methane emissions per unit of beef produced and greater economic returns. Other trials with cattle will be conducted to determine if omega-3 fatty acid levels in beef can be raised substantially if fattening yearlings are fed flaxseed or flaxseed oil that is treated to protect the alpha-linolenic acid in it from hydrogenation by ruminal microbes.

3. Progress Report:
Research was completed for Sub-objective 1.1 (Determine the impact of drought and defoliation timing on persistence and productivity of monocultures of switchgrass or western wheatgrass and on mixtures of western wheatgrass with alfalfa) and a manuscript was prepared for publication. For Sub-objectives 1.2 and 1.3, outreach materials were prepared for publication. A manuscript for Sub-objective 2.3 (Develop management techniques to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cattle) was published in Rangeland Ecology and Management. A preference trial with cattle and grape seed tannin in water was conducted, and research continues with trials with cattle to develop "tannin tea" for livestock consumption. Research was completed for Sub-objective 3.1 (Evaluate strategies for optimizing omega-3 fatty acids in beef) and a manuscript on this research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Animal Science. Also, an in vitro trial was conducted to evaluate protective treatments for omega-3 containing flaxseed and echium seeds that could improve their use as omega-3 containing feedstuffs for cattle and sheep.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Sanderson, M.A., Goslee, S.C., Franzluebbers, A.J., Kiniry, J.R., Owens, L.B., Spaeth, K., Steiner, J.L., Veith, T.L. 2011. Pastureland Conservation Effects Assessment Project: Status and expected outcomes. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 66(5):148A-153A.

Kronberg, S.L., Scholljegerdes, E.J., Murphy, E.J., Ward, R.E., Maddock, T.D., Schauer, C.S. 2012. Treatment of flaxseed to reduce biohydrogenation of a-linolenic acid by ruminal microbes in sheep and cattle and increase n-3 fatty acid concentrations in red meat. Journal of Animal Science. 90:4618-4624. DOI: 10.2527/jas.2011-4774.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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