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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Research Project #433388

Research Project: Rangeland Modeling: Forage Forecasting, Livestock Behavior and Performance

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Project Number: 3012-21610-002-40-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2017
End Date: Dec 31, 2020

Objective:
ARS and Cooperator will: 1) reduce the spatial scale from county-level to ranch-level of the experimental GrassCast forage production forecast product for the Great Plains, and 2) integrate agent-based and process-based models for spatially-explicit simulation of livestock behavior and performance in rangelands.

Approach:
1) Colorado State University has developed a new (experimental) grassland productivity forecast product for the Great Plains, called the “GrassCast.” This new county-level product has already garnered tremendous interest from grassland/rangeland-based cattle producers but ranchers have expressed a priority to reduce the spatial scale from county-level estimates to ranch-level (sub-county) estimates for the Great Plains. Cooperator has the data required (historical rangeland monitoring data, historical climatological data, historical NDVI data) available to provided ranch-level estimates but support for technical staff to run models and create desired output at sub-county levels is needed. 2) Fusing an agent-based model with an ecological process-based model will provide opportunities for spatially-explicit simulation of livestock behavior and performance in rangelands. Initial efforts will focus on creating a NetLogo application tool that focuses on livestock mobility and grazing behavior. Cattle movement and other behavior rules will be described in detail, and dynamics in energy use and livestock weight change will be simulated. The NetLogo application tool will support rapid adjustment of movement and behavior rules, and assessment of the results using comparisons to observed cattle behavior. NetLogo is a well-respected tool for agent-based modeling which requires a rapid-testing platform for movement hypotheses. Visual tools such as an application in NetLogo would be very helpful when communicating with the stakeholders, customers and other land managers.