Local stakeholders gather for the 2018 Rustici Tour on the Plumas National Forest

By Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte counties


In late July, UCCE Plumas-Sierra and UC Rangelands hosted the 2nd Rustici Rangeland Tour on the Beckwourth Ranger District for more than 60 attendees on the Plumas National Forest. The event created a venue for local forest staff, agency leadership, grazing permittees, and other regional stakeholders to discuss contemporary research, management, and monitoring for sustainable public lands grazing. The Rustici Rangeland Tour was established as part of the Rustici Rangeland Science Symposium series to bring hands-on extension education opportunities to local resource managers and stakeholders in a field-based setting.

"The Rustici Tour provided an overview of UC research occurring on the local forest and insight into policies changes with the potential to impact grazing allotment management in the future" stated Plumas Forest Permittee Rick Roberti, Beckwourth, Calif. "Most importantly, it provided a venue to open up the doors for new collaboration between permittee and local forest service staff with the help of UC Cooperative Extension."

The 2018 Rustici Rangeland Tour was supported by an extension grant from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Science’s Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Endowment; and support from UC Rangelands and County of Plumas and Sierra.

For more information and tour handouts, click here.

UC Rangelands Spring Newsletter

UC Cooperative Extension, Chico State, and Foster Ranch co-host Irrigated Pasture and Rangeland Management Workshop

 
In California, there are more than 34 million acres of grazed rangeland. Through active stewardship and conservation, grazing land managers can provide for agricultural production as well as a diversity of other ecosystem benefits across these working landscapes.

This workshop and field tour equipped ranchers, land managers, and students with tools and strategies to support sustainable livestock grazing enterprises on California’s irrigated pasturelands and rangelands. Field topics included vegetation and soil moisture monitoring methods, invasive plant management, and regulatory issues and as well as tours at the Foster Ranch and the Chico State Farm.

 
 
 

For information on future workshops, contact UCCE Butte-Plumas-Sierra Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor Tracy Schohr 


 
 

Just published! Livestock Protection Tools for California Ranchers 

 
Conflicts between livestock and predators are perhaps inevitable on extensively managed rangelands. Public perception and legal restriction of lethal predator control makes knowledge and use of nonlethal livestock protection methods critical for California ranchers. Additionally, mitigating conflicts between livestock and predators can be critical for sustaining productive rangeland ecosystems and ranching enterprises. This publication helps producers evaluate livestock protection tools that may fit their site-specific needs.

To read the full publication, click HERE


Knocking Out Noxious Weeds workshop series a success

 
The direct annual cost to monitor and control invasive plants in California is $82 million, and indirect economic impacts are even larger. Despite efforts, noxious weeds are continuing to invade rangelands and other working landscapes, highlighting the need for approaches that maximize cost effectiveness of reduced-risk practices while promoting biodiversity.

We hosted a series of seven workshops across California to share information on recent developments in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) rangeland research and field application with more than 300 land managers, ranchers, and restoration practitioners. At these workshop we also deployed participant surveys to learn about local experiences and perceptions of rangeland weed management practices, and are currently working on several publications summarizing our findings.

 
 
 

All workshop presentations and resources are now available on the Knocking Out Noxious Weeds Hub



WVM Analysis Overview: Which Value-Added Management Programs Really Add Value to Your Cattle?

By Tina Saitone
Cooperative Extension Specialist, Livestock and Rangeland Economics


The ever-expanding suite of value-added management and marketing programs available to cattle ranchers today creates substantial ranch-level complexity. Cattlemen are faced with the challenge of determining which programs will differentiate their cattle on sale day while maximizing the profitability of their operations. Although all of these programs are likely to add costs, the additional income generated from each of these programs is uncertain. Given that lots of cattle sold typically participate in many programs and management decisions must be made months or years in advance of a sale, it is nearly impossible for a rancher to accurately forecast the premium associated with implementing any particular program. However, with the help of good data from Western Video Market (WVM) Auction and modern statistical methods we can gain considerable insights into the value associated with particular programs and management practices.

In this series of blogs, I discuss estimates of the average premiums paid by buyers for individual value-added management, marketing, and vaccination programs using data from WVM's satellite video auctions in 2017.  These results can give ranchers information about the average value that each of these programs brings on sale day. This blog series builds on an article in California Cattleman Magazine (May 2018).

WVM serves as a marketing outlet for cattle ranchers in the western United States. In 2017, more than 286,000 head were sold during 13 video-based auctions. Prices for calves and yearlings were analyzed separately. The graph below shows the distribution of lot-level average weight for steers and heifers sold in 2017. Calves were classified based on the average weight of the lot being between 450 and 650 lbs. in order to focus on price effects at time of weaning. Yearling lots had average weights in the 750- to 950- lb. range. In total, 998 lots of calves and 715 lots of yearlings were analyzed. Lots consisting of cows, pairs, and bred heifers were not included in the analysis.
 
 

Lot-level characteristics (e.g., breed, sex, weight, frame score, etc.) are included in the model to control for how these factors influence price, while catalog descriptions were used to determine the value-added by specific management and marketing programs associated with each lot of cattle in the auction. Using statistical techniques and this lot-level sales information, the price paid for lots of cattle in 2017 can be decomposed by each characteristic/attribute.

In order to consider management choices and market conditions in a more comprehensive fashion, every other week I will add a new blog post to this series. Please check back regularly.

If you would like to be notified via email when additional blog posts become available, please email Tina Saitone.

Grazing Management to Improve Soil Health

By Ken Tate


Grazing lands occupy nearly half the Earth’s land area, provide livelihoods for millions, and mitigate climate change via massive stores of carbon. Maintaining and restoring soil health is essential to ensuring these benefits in our ever changing environment.

Thus, there is substantial global interest in managing livestock grazing to improve soil health. Grazing is promoted by some as a panacea for sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. In other cases, grazing is depicted as an ultimate driver of soil degradation.

So, what do we know about the relationships between grazing strategy (e.g., continuous vs. rotational grazing system), grazing intensity (e.g., moderate vs. heavy stocking rate), and soil health?

 

Improper livestock grazing – which compacts soils and reduces plant vigor – results in a cascade of interconnected negative outcomes including:

  • Decreased infiltration and soil water, thus increased runoff and pollutant transport.
  • Decreased plant rooting and productivity, thus decreased soil carbon and stability.
  • Decreased soil fertility, thus decreased above- and below- ground biomass and biodiversity.

 

The level of soil impairment is strongly dependent upon site specific factors such as grazing intensity and timing, soil resilience to compaction, and precipitation.

 

Proper livestock grazing – which maintains and improves soil health – results in a series of interconnected positive outcomes including:

  • Soil densities and structure that allow root and water penetration of the entire soil profile.
  • Vigorous forage plants with capacity to develop and maintain extensive rooting systems.
  • A community of palatable forage plants with high rooting mass and depth.
  • Stable, resilient increases in primary productivity both above- and below- ground.

 

Global analysis of grazing and soil health – we conducted a comprehensive analysis of published research to examine the effects of grazing strategy (no grazing, continuous grazing, and rotational grazing) and grazing intensity (heavy, moderate, and light grazing) on soil health. Core findings include:

  • Any grazing intensity or strategy increases soil compaction relative to no grazing.
  • Rotational grazing reduces compaction and increases soil carbon relative to continuous grazing.
  • Reduced grazing intensity reduces compaction and increases carbon stores.
  • Site conditions such as soil texture and total annual precipitation moderate grazing impacts.
  • Rotational grazing could create climate change mitigation opportunities over continuous grazing.

Our findings (Byrnes et al. 2018) suggest that rotational grazing can improve soil health over continuous grazing strategies. Decisions about grazing strategy and intensity significantly influence soil health outcomes, and site-specific conditions play important roles in shaping these out­comes.

 

Byrnes, R.C., D.J. Eastburn, K.W. Tate, and L.M. Roche*. 2018. A global meta-analysis of grazing impacts on soil health indicators. J. Environmental Quality. doi:10.2134/jeq2017.08.0313.

*Corresponding author, lmroche@ucdavis.edu

The complete findings from this study can be viewed here.

UC Rangelands Winter 2018 Newsletter

Knocking Out Noxious Weeds on Rangelands Workshop: February 20, Santa Maria, CA

Join the fight to reduce noxious weeds on rangelands and get the latest management tools at the final Knocking Out Noxious Weeds Workshop set for February 20th at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria! The workshops is designed for ranchers and land managers, featuring a dynamic list of speakers covering a range of land management topics associated with invasive species.

 

 

The workshop will:

  • Showcase effective strategies to manage invasive species
  • Highlight cost-effective approaches that maximize success
  • Feature reduced-risk practices while promoting biodiversity
  • Discuss the economic losses caused by invasive species on rangelands

For complete agenda and to register please visit the workshop website.The course has been approved for 4.0 CEU for DPR; CEU for SRM is pending.

For questions, please contact Matthew Shapero, UC Cooperative Extension Livestock & Range Advisor serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, mwkshapero@ucanr.edu, 805-645-1475


NEW! UC Rangelands Livestock- Predator Hub

Predators and grazing livestock rely upon rangeland habitats throughout California, and so livestock-predator conflicts are perhaps inevitable. UC Rangelands has recently launched a new “Livestock- Predator Hub” that brings together research-based information and resources for rangeland livestock producers and wildlife managers on mitigating and managing potential conflicts.

Visit the Livestock-Predator Hub HERE.


Just published! Cooperative Extension is Key to Unlocking Public Engagement with Science

The need for scientists — and ecologists, in particular — to engage with the public is well known. UC Rangelands’ Leslie Roche co-authored an article addressing how the U.S. land-grant mission and the Cooperative Extension system have initiated, developed, and implemented models of public engagement for the past 100 years. Cooperative Extension engages through trusted and established relationships, and collaboration and co-development of projects with the public.

Click HERE for the full article.  


Nitrogen Management App 

ATTENTION RANCHERS who are regulated under the Central Valley Irrigated Lands Waiver Program. UC Rangelands has created a tool to assist you with completion of your Nitrogen Management Plan (NMP).

Nitrogen dynamics within irrigated pasture are unique compared to other harvested crops regulated under the program. The pasture N app is based on research conducted within California, in collaboration with scientists at University of California, Davis, Water Board staff and irrigated pasture managers to ensure accuracy and functionality for the expected purpose. 

Complete your NMP today with assistance from the app by clicking here. 

Please check with your local Coalition regarding the need to have your plan certified, or need to submit data regarding nitrogen use on your farm to be in compliance with the program.


3 Steps to Take When Finding a Suspected Livestock Predator Kill

Tracy Schohr, UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor, Plumas, Sierra, and Butte Counties 

This blog post was adapted from the UCCE Plumas, Sierra, and Butte Counties Newsletter – December 2017  

In California, livestock depredation is a growing concern across rural counties with mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and now wolves in the landscape. When you encounter a suspected livestock kill at your home ranch, leased pasture, or public allotment, it is important to take critical steps to preserve the site so a formal investigation can take place.

  1. If you suspect predation, because you’ve seen signs of a recent predator, call:
    • Kent Laudon, CDFW at 530-215-0751
    • Wildlife Services State Office (916) 979-2675
    • Local Wildlife Services (District Supervisors)
      • North District – Jim Shuler (530) 336-5623
      • Sacramento District – Ryan McCreary (619) 666-6418
      • Central District – Brian Popper (209) 579-2891
      • San Luis District – Eric Covington (661) 765-2511
      • South District – John Turman (619) 561-3752
    • If you can’t get a hold of the above contacts, then try:
      • Local Game Warden – Game Warden Dispatch 916-358-1312
      • CDFW Regional Offices
        • Northern Region (530) 225-2300 / Field Office (707) 445-6493
        • N. Central Region (916)-358-2900
        • Bay Delta Region (707) 944-5500
        • Central Region (559) 243-4005 ext. 151
        • South Coast Region (858) 467-4201
        • Inland Deserts Region (909) 484-0167 
  2. Photo credit: USDA APHIS Wildlife Services

    If you don’t immediately suspect predation, when initially inspecting the site, follow the below steps:

    • Minimize your own impacts. Watch where you step and do not step on any signs (e.g. tracks). The fewer steps you make the better.
    • If you happen to discover tracks while initially inspecting the carcass, cover them with a can, pot, etc. to protect them.
    • Take a picture of carcass and surrounding areas.
    • Mark location with camera picture, flagging, or GPS – this can be helpful for investigators to find the site.
    • Protect the scene by restricting people, dogs, and
    • livestock from disturbing evidence.
    • The carcass should be protected by covering with a tarp to avoid further feeding on the carcass.
  3. Officially report incident to the Department of Fish and Wildlife via the Wildlife Incident Reporting System.
    • This will provide a formal record of the incident.  Such reports may result in the issuance of a depredation permit (permit to take animals creating property damage) for designated species requiring a depredation permit by California Codes and Regulations (this does NOT include wolves).

It is imperative to contact CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and USDA Wildlife Services to investigate potential livestock depredations. Depending on schedules, representatives from one or both agencies may conduct the investigation. During their visit, investigators will search the carcass site and surrounding area for predator sign, including tracks, hair, and scat. Therefore, it is important to preserve the site with the steps listed above. The investigators will closely examine the carcass for injuries, bite marks, and tissue damage patterns. Upon completion of the investigation, a “Livestock Loss Determination” report.

Following an investigation that has confirmed a livestock loss from a mountain lion, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shall issue (depredation) permits when requested by ranchers. For more information on mountain lion depredation, click here.

If a bear has been found to cause livestock depredation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife can issue a depredation permit outside of the bear hunting season. Furthermore, Section 4181.1 of the Fish and Game Code states; “that any bear that is encountered while in the act of inflicting injury to, molesting, or killing, livestock may be taken immediately by the owner of the livestock or the owner’s employee if the taking is reported no later than the next working day to the department and the carcass is made available to the department.” For more information on Black Bear depredation, click here.

Photo credit: Gary Kramer, USFWS

If wolves are present, ranchers can non-injuriously haze wolves near livestock. “Non-injurious harassment is allowed when wolves are within 0.25 mile of livestock, or within 100 yards of a dwelling, agricultural structure, campsite, or commercial facility.1”Additionally, there are non-lethal deterrents that may work in certain circumstance to prevent further depredations of livestock by wolves. At this time, there is no compensation for ranchers who experience livestock loss from a wolf in California. Reporting losses from wolves will help document impacts. For additional information, including tools to discourage wolf presence and legal protections, click here

References:

Tools for California Livestock Producers to Discourage Wolf Presence, Guidance for Suspected Wolf Depredation, and Wolf Legal Status. California Department of Fish and Wildlife – June 2017.

UC Rangelands Fall 2017 Newsletter

Schohr joins UCCE as New Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor

UC Rangeland’s is excited to announce Tracy Schohr as the new Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for Butte, Plumas and Sierra Counties. Since 2012, Tracy has worked with the UC Rangelands team on multiple research and outreach projects. During this time, she earned a Master of Science in Horticulture and Agronomy from University of California, Davis.

In her new role, Tracy will assist ranchers and land managers in addressing livestock production challenges and environmental concerns. She will continue to work with UC Rangelands on a number of ongoing research projects in the region focused on irrigated pasture production, livestock-predator conflicts, and multiple-use management of mountain meadows on public lands.

 

New Research: Livestock Pharmaceuticals and Waterways

The use of veterinary pharmaceuticals in beef cattle has led to concerns associated with potential impacts to water quality and aquatic organisms. Recent research assessed the transport of common beef cattle pharmaceuticals (oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, and ivermectin) via surface runoff and from manure in irrigated pasture conditions.

“The research team found the transport of the pharmaceuticals in runoff from cattle waste (fecal and urine) was low, with up to 99% of pharmaceuticals trapped in the waste or in the soil directly beneath,” stated co-author Ken Tate, Ph.D., University of California Davis. “There is relatively low risk to surface water quality from pasture runoff.”

Click here to learn more. For additional information on sorption, leaching, and surface runoff of beef cattle veterinary pharmaceuticals under simulated irrigated pasture conditions click here.

 

Nitrogen App Created by UC Rangelands for Irrigated Pasture Managers

ATTENTION RANCHERS who are regulated under the Central Valley Irrigated Lands Waiver Program. A new tool has been created to assist you with compliance under the program. Over the past year, UC Rangelands heard directly from a number of producers with challenges to completing the required Nitrogen Management Plan (NMP) for their irrigated pasture under the Central Valley Regional Water Board preview.

DJ Eastburn on our team created this app to assist irrigated pasture managers and owners to accurately and efficiently complete NMP Worksheet. This is part of UC Rangeland team’s new Irrigated Pasturelands Enhancement Program funded by Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (WSARE) and Dept. of Water Resources.

Nitrogen dynamics within irrigated pasture is unique compared to other harvested crops regulated under the program. The pasture N app is based upon research conducted within California, in collaboration with scientists at University of California, Davis, Water Board staff and irrigated pasture managers to ensure accuracy and functionality for the expected purpose. Complete your NMP today with assistance from the app by clicking here. Reminder, your NMP Worksheet needs to be kept on file at your operation.

 

The Rustici Livestock and Rangeland Scholarship Winners

Russell L. Rustici was a Lake County cattle rancher and philanthropist with a deep interest in cattle ranching and preservation of rangeland ecosystems. Mr. Rustici left an endowment that awarded over $1.52 million dollars in scholarships to students pursuing a career with a focus on rangeland management, with an emphasis towards cattle and sheep ranching in conjunction with good rangeland practices.

In 2017, the scholarship endowment awarded $177,500 to 36 students attending 4-year and 2-year colleges. Click here to see current and past scholarship winners, including features on scholarship recipients Matthew Delbar, of Potter Valley, Calif. and Alejandro Orozco-Lopez of Galt, Calif.

Riparian Meadow Response to Modern Conservation Grazing Management

In the western U.S., millions of acres of perennial grasslands, shrublands, and forests are held in the public domain and managed by state and federal agencies for multiple land uses. Although riparian meadows account for a small percentage of this landscape, their ecological and conservation values are substantial. These ecosystems provide a suite of benefits—including clean water, flood attenuation, nutrient sequestration, wildlife habitat, and livestock grazing. Local ranching communities rely on these systems for summer grazing, and in turn, livestock provide protein to support a growing human population.

Society has strong contemporary expectations for grazing lands stewardship to balance agricultural goals with social, cultural, and conservation goals. During the 1990s, there was a fundamental policy and management paradigm shift for US federal public lands that initiated the modern grazing management era, in which riparian meadows emerged as critical conservation areas, and production and conservation objectives were co-valued. To meet these new riparian grazing objectives, livestock pressure on western federal lands was considerably reduced (Fig. 1).

At the start of this modern grazing era, the US Forest Service in California initiated a state-wide, long-term meadow vegetation monitoring program (1) to document baseline conditions prior to the new riparian grazing standards; and (2) to examine subsequent trends in meadow vegetation. The riparian grazing standards implemented by the Forest Service over the past two decades established grazing regimes that are much different than those examined in the 1980s through early 1990s (more information here). UC Rangelands and UC Cooperative Extension collaborated with the Forest Service to examine relationships between long-term (1997–2015) vegetation trends, livestock grazing pressure, and environmental conditions under this modern grazing management (Fig. 2).

Fig 1. 2000-2015 change in animal unit months (AUM) on US federal public lands in 11 western states. Data were sourced from BLM and USFS annual reports (2016).

Fig. 2. We analyzed data from 279 US Forest Service National Forest grazing allotments, as well as 52 individual meadow sites (inset map).

Our results suggest reductions in grazing pressure in the modern era have improved the balance between riparian conservation and livestock production goals. Overall, plant species richness and diversity increased over the study period, which were driven by increases in native forbs. Changes in plant community were not associated with either grazing pressure or precipitation at the grazing allotment scale (the administrative scale); however, both grazing pressure and precipitation had significant, yet modest, associations with changes in plant community at the meadow site scale. It is important to note that changing climate conditions (reduced snowpack, changes in timing of snowmelt) could trigger shifts in plant communities, potentially impacting both conservation and agricultural outcomes. Therefore, adaptive, site-specific management strategies are required to meet grazing pressure limits and safeguard ecosystem services within individual meadows, especially under more variable climate conditions.

To read the recently published paper, click here!

Rustici Rangeland Science Symposium Speaker Highlight – Bi-State Sage Grouse Local Area Working Group: Voluntary Partnership Rather than Regulatory Driven Conservation

Steve Lewis, Extension Educator, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Steve Fulstone, Rancher and Member of the Bridgeport Ranchers Organization

Located across 4.5 million acres on the central California-Nevada border, the Bi-State sage grouse is distinctly different from other greater sage grouse populations found across the western United States. The bird was once proposed for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act – citing declines due to livestock grazing, invasive species, altered fire regimes and habitat loss, among other factors. But in April 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision to withdraw the proposed listing based on the clear success of voluntary, collaborative conservation efforts by local stakeholders to recover this species and its habitat. Steve Lewis and Steve Fulstone will discuss the genesis of the Bi-State Local Area Working Group, the The Bi-State Action Plan developed by the partners over the past 15 years to conserve the species, and on-the-ground habitat improvement and conservation efforts coordinated between ranchers, agencies, and conservation organizations.

Click here for more information on this unique social-ecological systems case study in voluntary partnership to conserve a threatened species in a complex setting.

2017 Rustici Science Symposium – Speaker Highlights & Poster Session

The goal of the 4th Rustici Rangeland Science Symposium is to engage ranchers, land managers, researchers, and policymakers in co-developing actionable science, policy, and management to sustain rangelands. The symposium will focus on partnerships surrounding a variety of topics, including: sustaining water resources; coping with drought; habitat conservation; and enhancing ranch profitability. Click here for more details and to register. 

Speaker Highlight –
Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management in Semiarid Ecosystems

Dana Bowman, Rancher and member of the Crow Valley Livestock Cooperative, Inc.

Justin Derner, Rangeland Scientist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Social and biophysical barriers exist for implementing management strategies to achieve desired outcomes of sustained livestock production, grassland bird populations, and vegetation structural heterogeneity in the shortgrass steppe of Eastern Colorado. Dana Bowman and Justin Derner will discuss the processes associated with the Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management (CARM) experiment, initiated in 2012, which is a novel effort where an 11 person Stakeholder Group comprised of ranchers, non-government conservation organizations and federal/state land management agencies make ranch-scale adaptive rangeland management decisions. Stakeholders and scientists co-produce defensible, science-based management recommendations for multiple rangeland objectives, and build trust and collaborative relationships. For more information on this research project, please see www.ars.usda.gov/rrsr/agm

Poster Session –
The poster session is a great opportunity to showcase your work to ranchers, researchers, land managers, agency representatives, conservationists, and policy makers.The broad focus for the combined mixer and poster session includes any activities related to sustainable rangeland research, management, conservation, and policy.

To submit your poster abstracts (250 words maximum) please contact Grace Woodmansee at gwoodmansee@ucdavis.edu.

Submissions are Due Friday, March 17, 2017.