OSU range day shares grazing, water quality research


UNION - When a river runs through cattle range, does that always mean trouble for fish?

How can feedlot operators ready their herds for market and still maintain federal water quality standards?

What is the best way to monitor a sagebrush rangeland environment so that it will sustain both wildlife and grazing animals?

Cattle ranchers, landowners and others who are home on the range will hear the latest in rangeland management strategies June 27 from the researchers themselves during the 22nd annual Range Field Day.

These researchers are from Oregon State University's Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center offices in Union and Burns, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Research Service and from OSU's Department of Rangeland Resources.

"We wanted to put together one day a year where we provided highlights of our research program for the people who are managing the land," said Bill Krueger, who heads OSU's rangeland department. "This is where we apply the science to the problems of today."

The theme for this year's Range Field Day is "Sustainable Beef Production in the Intermountain Region." Past field day themes have focused on beef production systems, riparian areas, water quality and management of noxious weeds and juniper.

Mike McInnis, a rangeland professor at OSU's satellite agricultural program at Eastern Oregon State University in La Grande, said the day usually sparks some lively conversations between the researchers and landowners.

"It's a chance for us at the college to be accountable to the folks who pay the bills," he said. "It allows them to have access to us."

Such access could prompt some changes in how the cattle ranchers and landowners do business.

For example, Krueger's research in streamside cattle grazing could lead to some changes in the way cattle ranchers graze their herds. Traditionally, cattle graze on a large patch of range between July 4 and mid-October.

Krueger said that one example of a new strategy that could be better for both water quality and cattle is switching to grazing cattle on a smaller area for three weeks when the forage vegetation is the most nutritious.

"You can raise the average weight of calves by about 25 pounds without negative impact to the stream," he said. Other seminars planned for the field day are:

  • "Cattle Distribution of Foothill Rangeland" and "Environmental Monitoring Systems," by OSU rangeland professor Doug Johnson and rangeland graduate student Norm Harris.


  • "Grazing and Weed Management" by Larry Larson, ag program coordinator at Eastern Oregon University and Mike McInnis.


  • "Compliance with the Clean Water Act: Animal Feeding Operations and the EPA," by Jay Carr, chairman of the Baker County Extension office; Randy Mills, chairman of the Umatilla County Extension office; John Williams, chairman of the Wallowa County Extension office.


  • "Designing Sustainable Livestock Management Systems," by Marty Vavra, the superintendent of EOU's agricultural program and Tim DelCurto, the assistant superintendent of the Eastern Oregon research center.


  • "Advances in Riparian Ecology," by OSU assistant professor Tamzen Stringham.


  • "Using Photography to Monitor Vegetation," by Chad Boy and Tony Svejcar, from EOARC.

The Union County Cattlewomen will provide a beef lunch for $6. Interested persons may call the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center at 541-562-5129 or OSU's Department of Rangeland Resources at 541-737-3341 for further information.