Project Number: 3070-21610-003-016-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Jun 1, 2020
End Date: May 31, 2025
Develop PC and smartphone based software and database applications related to forage and animal management and evaluate the effects of vegetation treatments on forage utilization by grazing animals and their performance. The specific objectives are to: * Develop databases and software web interfaces to store the current inventory of animal resources, land resources, and the animal (feed and hay) and plant (e.g., fertilizer, herbicide, seed, or burn treatment) inputs for a forage based livestock enterprise as well as the history of 1) how animals were grouped into management units (via sorting, breeding, birth, death, sale, etc.), cared for as a group and individually (e.g., fed, doctored, or just checked), and performed as a group and individually (e.g., body weight gain); 2) how the land was divided into management units (pastures, paddocks, fields, treatment areas, etc.), was treated (e.g., grazed by an animal group for a period of time, fertilized or sprayed with an input on a certain date, burned on a certain date, etc.), and performed (e.g., forage harvest as grazing days, forage mass, grain yield, and estimated forage production from remote sensing products and models). The interface will also enable us to query things like what resources were used by SPER_CG1 in 2023 to produce it's calf crop? How much biomass was produced in pasture 18S and how much of it was used through grazing and when. * Impose the dormant-season burn, short mowing-height, moderate mowing-height, and untreated control treatments in 3 random cells within each of 3 replicated pastures with a dominance of little bluestem and graze those pastures with GPS collared livestock to determine the grazing preference for each treatment over time and quantify the utilization of the vegetation components with each treatment.
Beef produced in the Southern Plains (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) provides a significant portion of the nation's red meat while contributing greatly to family income in the region. Development of software, database and remote sensing applications using advanced computational and statistical algorithms to assist researchers and producers in managing forage and animal production systems would greatly contribute towards cutting the production costs and increase net profits. The cooperative team comprised of researchers from ARS and the Cooperator will develop software and database applications (1) to improve remote collection and accessibility of pertinent plant, animal and system related data, (2) develop an animal management information system to meet Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee requirements (3) impose some vegetation treatments on little bluestem dominated rangelands (little bluestem being the target species to alter utilization) and measure the effect of these treatments on grazing preference relative to an untreated control. The utilization response for the treatments will be measured for the target species and associated components.