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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360551

Research Project: Improved Management to Balance Production and Conservation in Great Plains Rangelands

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: Grass-Cast: a new tool to inform drought management in the West

item PARTON, WILLIAM - Colorado State University
item HARTMAN, MELANIE - Colorado State University
item Derner, Justin
item Peck, Dannele
item FUCHS, BRIAN - University Of Nebraska
item SMITH, WILLIAM - University Of Arizona
item LARSEN, DANA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item GUERRERO, RAFAEL - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item Brown, David
item Elias, Emile

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub facilitates communication and collaboration between agricultural producers and researchers, particularly those with expertise in climate and agriculture. By engaging scientists in conversations with producers and their trusted technical advisers (e.g., University Extension professionals and USDA Service Center staff), the relevance and usability of research outputs can be dramatically improved. This engagement process was crucial in the development of a new Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast,” which can help ranchers in the Great Plains better anticipate and prepare for drought and associated shortages in summer grazing resources. Grass-Cast uses over 30 years of historical data on weather and vegetation growth—combined with seasonal precipitation forecasts—to predict if rangelands in individual counties are likely to produce above-normal, near-normal, or below-normal amounts of vegetation. Grass-Cast was first released to the public in 2018 for the Northern Great Plains, and to the Southern Great Plains in 2019. Work is now underway to develop Grass-Cast for the Southwest region of the United States. We provide an overview of the modeling process used to produce Grass-Cast, which involves a process-based ecological model, historical weather data, sub-seasonal climate outlooks, remotely-sensed NDVI data, and long-term measurements of above-ground net primary productivity. We then discuss how ranchers and other rangeland managers can use Grass-Cast to help inform and carry out their drought management plans. Finally, we describe the process used to engage stakeholders in the design of Grass-Cast, which made it more relevant and of greater interest to them.