There’s not much you can do about the weather. But you can learn to live with it and adapt to whatever it delivers.
A team of Kansas State University scientists are trying to find solutions to help cattlemen adapt to any future climate extremes including drought, flooding, extreme heat and subzero temperatures as they run their grazing operations.
Kansas is a critical part of the permanent grazing lands and wheat pasture of the Southern Great Plains and Kansas State University distinguished professor of agronomy and one of the leaders of a team devoted to helping farmers and ranchers adapt to changing climate.
Realizing the importance of this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a $9.6 million, five-year grant to a multistate partnership that includes Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Noble Foundation and Tarleton State University, Rice said.
The Kansas State University team also is led by Peter Tomlinson, assistant professor of agronomy and environmental quality specialist, and Gerad Middendorf, associate professor of sociology. The evaluation component will be directed by the university's office of educational innovation and evaluation.
Others on the university's team include Justin Waggoner, beef systems specialist, Southwest Research-Extension Center; Doug Shoup, crops and soils specialist, and Jaymelynn Farney, beef systems specialist, Southeast Research-Extension Center; Dan Devlin, professor of agronomy and director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment; Aavudai Anandhi Swamy, research assistant professor of agronomy; Jim Shroyer, crop production specialist and professor of agronomy; Walter Fick, range specialist and professor of agronomy; Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, nutrient management specialist and associate professor of agronomy; and DeAnn Presley, soil management specialist and associate professor of agronomy.
"Our uniquely qualified team will answer critically important research questions and deliver extension programming about impacts of climate variability on beef cattle grazing operations in Kansas and the Southern Great Plains," Tomlinson said. "We also will work on the sustainability of rural economies under variable and changing climates."
The project's goal is to increase the resiliency of beef cattle operations on grazing lands and wheat pasture, both dual purpose and graze-out, so they can better sustain productivity in the future through a wide range of potential climate changes, Rice said.
The team will work with ranchers and farmers to evaluate management practices and suggest changes for better resiliency. Specifically, the project will focus on improved grazing management, increased water use efficiency, more diversified forage sources, development of multiple marketing options, strategic drought planning, improved soil and water quality and ways to provide more stable farm household incomes.
Funding is being provided through the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of $19.5 million the institute is making available to various scientific teams nationally to support the development of climate solutions relative to beef and dairy cattle.