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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Research Project #440763

Research Project: Precision Management Technologies for Rangeland Agricultural Systems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Project Number: 2070-21500-001-003-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 16, 2021
End Date: Aug 16, 2026

The objectives of this project are to develop research and outreach associated with 1) use of virtual fence technology for concentrating cattle grazing to create linear fuel breaks in large rangeland landscapes, 2) use of virtual fence technology to improve livestock use and distribution in rangeland riparian areas, and 3) to increase the use and/or development of tools associated with precision livestock agricultural management.

Objective 1 will be assessed at the ARS-managed Northern Great Basin Experimental Range in southeast Oregon. We will utilize approximately 40 cow/calf pairs for a 40-day trial; depending on initial results, we may replicate this trial in future years. Cattle will be fitted with virtual fence collars. These GPS collars alert cattle to proximity to user defined boundaries using an audible cue and if the animal continues its direction of travel toward the boundary, a mild electrical shock is delivered to the animal. Animals will be trained to the collars for a 5 day period prior to being released into the 900ha trial pasture. We will create virtual boundaries to contain animals to a 200-m wide by 3-km long fuel break within the trial pasture. Cattle will remain in the trial until utilization within the fuel break reaches approximately 60%. Following cattle removal we will assess fuel biomass within and outside of the virtual fuel break and calculate the number of animal locations (5 minute intervals) within and outside of the fuel break. Objective 2 will be utilizing the same technology noted in Objective 1 but adapted to grazing management focused on maintaining/improving riparian vegetation and restoration practices; however, the location will be Eastern Oregon Agricultural Reserach Center, Union, Oregon (Hall Ranch) and potentially private rangeland riparian pastures with private stakeholder/collaborators. Objective 3 will assess and utilize existing precision technologies (e.g. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), geographical information systems (GIS)/layers, precision supplementation systems, carbon assessment on rangelands, etc.) to provide land and livestock managers with the research and outreach they need to make informed decisions on use and incorporation of precision livestock agricultural management technologies.