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ARS Home » Plains Area » Woodward, Oklahoma » Rangeland and Pasture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326683

Research Project: Sustaining Southern Plains Landscapes through Plant Genetics and Sound Forage-Livestock Production Systems

Location: Rangeland and Pasture Research

Title: Data-driven ranch management: A vision for sustainable ranching

Author
item Moffet, Corey
item REUTER, RYAN - Oklahoma State University

Submitted to: International Rangeland Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Introduction The 21st century has ushered in an era of tiny, inexpensive electronics with impressive capabilities for sensing the environment. Also emerging are new technologies for communicating data to computer systems where new analytical tools can process the data. Many of these technologies were developed for mobile and “internet of things” devices. Use of these technologies in ranching is in its infancy. Ranching is choosing how best to employ resources to achieve production that is economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable. Traditional research-based management sought to manage for the long-term average response of typical animals and ecological sites, often distilled to rules-of-thumb using calendar date triggers. Data-driven management enables ranchers to manage based on customized relationships that consider factors we know affect outcomes. Data-driven management is achieved by measuring, predicting, and adapting in near real-time. Many technological advances will be central to this vision including: unmanned aerial and ground vehicles with sensors, networked stationary sensors, and sensors deployed on, in, or near grazing animals. The connected sensors will communicate data to a computer where it is processed. Relevant scientific knowledge will inform the predictions required to provide actionable information or automated actions. Measured performance is feedback the system will use to make refinements to future predictions and draw attention to knowledge gaps. The Data of Ranching Resources Measuring the status the most basic data of ranching is critical to the approach. These data characterize the state of land, water, vegetation, harvested feeds, supplements, animals, people, and facilities. The status of soil resources varies spatially, forage quality varies over time, and individual animals vary in their genetic makeup; therefore the system will need to store data with the relevant spatial, temporal, and individualistic dimensions. Public databases are available for many, more static aspects of land, water, and vegetation; and public satellite data are available for some spatially and temporally variable characteristics. Information needed on finer scales will be collected locally by sensors. These sensors will be deployed on stationary bases, on equipment and unmanned vehicles, and on animals. Weather Much change in the status of ranch resources is driven by weather. Weather affects, for example, the amount and quality of forage produced at a site, or an animal’s nutrient demand or need for stress relief. Weather data is needed at appropriate spatial and temporal scales to be useful. Timing of weather events can impact the induced response. Public databases are available to query, but for some applications more timely and accurate data, measured locally, is needed to be useful for data-driven management. These local data can be obtained from a network of weather stations. Not only is the weather that has occurred important, but good weather forecasts are also critical for planning a course of action. These forecasts are available from public databases. Markets Biology meets economics when production input and output markets are considered. The markets vary spatially and temporally. Temporal variability in the markets may include changes that reflect change in weather, seasonal change, or change due to multi-year cycles. Changing market prices provide opportunities to choose a different mix of production inputs and outputs for profit. To properly consider these alternatives, timely market data are needed. Futures and options markets, as well as USDA-reported prices of livestock and crops, are available. Consistent reports of some other relevant input prices (fertilizer, equipment, etc.) may be lacking. Analytics and Actionable Information Ranches are complex systems with

Technical Abstract: Introduction The 21st century has ushered in an era of tiny, inexpensive electronics with impressive capabilities for sensing the environment. Also emerging are new technologies for communicating data to computer systems where new analytical tools can process the data. Many of these technologies were developed for mobile and “internet of things” devices. Use of these technologies in ranching is in its infancy. Ranching is choosing how best to employ resources to achieve production that is economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable. Traditional research-based management sought to manage for the long-term average response of typical animals and ecological sites, often distilled to rules-of-thumb using calendar date triggers. Data-driven management enables ranchers to manage based on customized relationships that consider factors we know affect outcomes. Data-driven management is achieved by measuring, predicting, and adapting in near real-time. Many technological advances will be central to this vision including: unmanned aerial and ground vehicles with sensors, networked stationary sensors, and sensors deployed on, in, or near grazing animals. The connected sensors will communicate data to a computer where it is processed. Relevant scientific knowledge will inform the predictions required to provide actionable information or automated actions. Measured performance is feedback the system will use to make refinements to future predictions and draw attention to knowledge gaps. The Data of Ranching Resources Measuring the status the most basic data of ranching is critical to the approach. These data characterize the state of land, water, vegetation, harvested feeds, supplements, animals, people, and facilities. The status of soil resources varies spatially, forage quality varies over time, and individual animals vary in their genetic makeup; therefore the system will need to store data with the relevant spatial, temporal, and individualistic dimensions. Public databases are available for many, more static aspects of land, water, and vegetation; and public satellite data are available for some spatially and temporally variable characteristics. Information needed on finer scales will be collected locally by sensors. These sensors will be deployed on stationary bases, on equipment and unmanned vehicles, and on animals. Weather Much change in the status of ranch resources is driven by weather. Weather affects, for example, the amount and quality of forage produced at a site, or an animal’s nutrient demand or need for stress relief. Weather data is needed at appropriate spatial and temporal scales to be useful. Timing of weather events can impact the induced response. Public databases are available to query, but for some applications more timely and accurate data, measured locally, is needed to be useful for data-driven management. These local data can be obtained from a network of weather stations. Not only is the weather that has occurred important, but good weather forecasts are also critical for planning a course of action. These forecasts are available from public databases. Markets Biology meets economics when production input and output markets are considered. The markets vary spatially and temporally. Temporal variability in the markets may include changes that reflect change in weather, seasonal change, or change due to multi-year cycles. Changing market prices provide opportunities to choose a different mix of production inputs and outputs for profit. To properly consider these alternatives, timely market data are needed. Futures and options markets, as well as USDA-reported prices of livestock and crops, are available. Consistent reports of some other relevant input prices (fertilizer, equipment, etc.) may be lacking. Analytics and Actionable Information Ranches are complex systems with