July 31, 2023
For 23 years, proper management of grasslands and grazing lands has been on the agenda at the annual Nebraska Grazing Conference, this year set for Aug. 8-9 at Younes Conference Center in Kearney.
This year’s featured banquet speaker is Curt Pate, a renowned horseman who is nationally recognized for his animal-handling skills.
One of the organizers, Brent Plugge, Nebraska Extension beef systems educator, says Pate and Ruth Woiwode, University of Nebraska assistant professor in animal behavior and well-being, will set up portable corrals and animal handling in a pasture setting for a field tour on the first day of the conference.
There also will be a panel of past Leopold Conservation Award winners — including Nancy Peterson, Homer Buell and Tim Kalkowski — to discuss an assessment of their past, present and future grazing land conservation efforts. This year’s Leopold recipient, the Logan Pribbeno family from Wine Glass Ranch in Imperial, Neb., will be recognized.
Other speakers on the agenda include Cody Trump, Sandhills Task Force; Rebecca Kern-Lunbery, Ward Laboratories; Alex McKiernan, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition; Jeff Nichols, Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Jerry Volesky and Gwendwr Meredith, University of Nebraska.
The final day of the conference focuses on precision livestock management, featuring Mitch Stephenson — Nebraska Extension forage and range specialist and associate director of the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center at Scottsbluff — talking about virtual fencing. Yijie Xiong, Nebraska Extension precision livestock management specialist, will discuss opportunities and challenges in precision grazing.
“These topics will provide insights into the current technology producers can use to improve efficiency and utilization of our grasslands,” Plugge says.
There will be sponsor and exhibitor booths showcasing new programs, equipment and products for conference participants.
The conference began in 2001 as the brainchild of the late Terry Gompert and Bob Scriven, then-Nebraska Extension educators who recognized the need to serve farmers, ranchers, land managers and conservation groups who wanted to make grazing a profitable enterprise and manage their grazing lands in a sustainable way, Plugge says. An exploratory meeting was held in 2000, convened by the Center for Grassland Studies at UNL.
“Martin Massengale, founding director of the Center; Bruce Anderson, Nebraska Extension forage specialist; and Rick Rasby with the UNL Department of Animal Science led the discussion,” Plugge says. “As a result of the overwhelming response from a variety of producers, professional organizations, and state and federal agencies, the conference planning committee was established with members representing the diversity of those expressing an interest in a statewide grazing conference.”
To learn more about the 2023 conference, visit grassland.unl.edu.
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