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November 2021

Newsletter Topics

RP Roundup Recap
Livestock Water Quality Challenges
Art of Range: Recent Episodes
IYRP Related News


Two RP members were recently elected as SRM Officers. Congratulations to Karen Hickman (2nd Vice President) and Leslie Roche (Director).
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RP Roundup Recap

Many thanks to Livia Olsen (Kansas State University) and Sergio Arispe (Oregon State University) for hosting the RP Roundup on November 4th. The focus was on innovative technologies for creating extension content with presentations from Dr. Colt Knight (University of Maine), Dr. Tip Hudson (Washington State University), and Dr. Levy Randolph (Kansas State University). 

The session was recorded and is now available.

Livestock Water Quality a Challenge for Drought Stricken Ranchers

By Miranda Meehan
North Dakota State University

Adequate, good quality water has been a challenge for ranchers in the Northern Great Plains this year, due to wide spread drought. Many ranchers in the region still depend on surface water sources, such as dugouts and stock dams to provide water to grazing livestock. These sources naturally contain salts, which are dissolved minerals or solids.

Elevated concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) and sulfates can be toxic to livestock, resulting in decreased performance, abortions, blindness, central nervous system disorders and death. For most classes of grazing livestock, the TDS in the water should be less than 5,000 parts per million (ppm). Sulfate is part of the TDS. The recommended concentration should be less than 500 ppm for calves and less than 1,000 ppm for adult cattle.

During a drought there is an increased risk of elevated TDS and sulfates in water sources, as concentrations increase as water levels decrease due to evaporation. In response to statewide drought conditions, NDSU Extension is screening the quality of livestock water sources to reduce losses of livestock due to toxic water conditions. NDSU Extension agents are screening the concentration of TDS and sulfates across North Dakota throughout the grazing season.

Water samples were screened for TDS and sulfate using an electric conductivity meter and sulfate test strips, respectively. Samples were classified based on county, sample date and water source. If TDS concentrations were equal to or more than 4,500 ppm or sulfates were greater than 800 at the time of screening, laboratory analysis was recommended.

In 2021, Extension agents screened 1,547 water samples from 37 counties in North Dakota. The screenings identified 151 sources with elevated TDS levels, greater than 5,000 ppm (Figure 1). Potentially toxic sulfate levels, greater than 1,200 ppm, were identified at 330 locations (Figure 2). These screenings resulted in 138 samples being submitted for laboratory analysis and management changes at 214 locations.
Figure 1. Map depicting results of total dissolved solid screenings conducted in 2021 by NDSU Extension.
Figure 2. Map depicting results of sulfate screenings conducted in 2021 by NDSU Extension.
Water quality screening and analysis of livestock sources allows ranchers to ensure water quality is not impacting livestock performance and/or health. It also can aid in making management decisions such as when livestock should be removed from a pasture or when an alternative water source should be used or developed. Installing a water development plan can help ensure that livestock have access to good-quality water throughout the grazing season and increase a ranch’s drought resilience.

For more information on livestock water quality contact your local Extension office or visit the website.

The Art of Range Podcast

Recent Podcast Episodes

The Art of Range Podcast provides education through conversation with some of the brightest minds in rangeland management. 

IYRP Related News

By Barb Hutchinson

IYRP Sessions a Success at the Joint IRC-IGC Congress (excerpt from report by Maryam Niamir-Fuller)
The International Grassland and Rangeland Congress finished with excellent results for the IYRP initiative.  Here are a few highlights: 
  • The IYRP was featured in several important Sessions, both Plenary and Concurrent. At least 10 peer reviewed scientific papers specifically focused on priority actions for IYRP 2026. An Exhibition Booth also provided excellent material for raising awareness about IYRP at UNGA.
  • Over 60% of all the scientific papers about rangelands submitted to the Congress focused on policy challenges for improved grazing land management, common-property oversight, or socioeconomic welfare among pastoralists. 
  • The Congress voted to approve several Resolutions directly pertinent to IYRP, including establishment of an IYRP Sub-Committee of the IGC/IRC that will focus on supporting the designation and implementation of priority actions for IYRP, and the establishment of a national IYRP committee for Kenya
An official report will be published soon, and presentations and session recordings as well as the report will be available on the website.  Please check back in about a week. 
The Call for films for a second edition of the “Perspectives on Pastoralism Film Festival” has been announced.  The Festival seeks to deepen understanding of how diverse peoples across the world gain their livelihoods from extensive livestock production. The first edition was screened in Kassel, Germany, and Brussels, Belgium, in 2019, followed by online events such as at the Global Landscapes Forum, the LANDac conference, and the International Grassland & Rangeland Congress recently hosted in Kenya. A second edition will be launched with an online screening in 2022 and subsequent events will be shared with filmmakers as the events are organized. Films for the next edition of the film festival can now be submitted, using this link. See also a trailer made by Patrick Augenstein on the compilation of films in the first edition of the festival.   
Book Launch:  The League for Pastoral Peoples (LPP) launched the book Livestock for a Small Planet by Ilse Koehler-Rollefson. This looks at nine myths about livestock and outlines nine principles for a healthy and ethical human-livestock relationship. It challenges the “livestock efficiency paradigm” and calls for extensification of livestock keeping, building on lessons learnt from pastoralists.  The “Book Launch” brought together people from around the world working in and on different types of livestock production systems to comment on the book and its arguments – highlighting its strengths and weaknesses from their different perspectives.  The book is now available online and can be downloaded here.
Report on Livestock and Climate Change
The Report: Are livestock bad for the planet? – Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience – PASTRES is now available online.  Within that link, you will also find info sheets and briefs related to the report:  Briefing: Are livestock always bad for the planet? Information sheets: Infosheet 1: Livestock and climate change: the benefits of a systems approach; Infosheet 2: Ten flaws in mainstream assessments of livestock and climate change; Infosheet 3: Putting livestock-keepers at the centre of the climate-livestock debate.
Pastres Blog Posts ILRI Blog Posts Re: Rangelands Initiative Research Papers COP26 side event: “Mobile pastoralism for climate change mitigation, ecosystem restoration and resilient food systems” involved several IYRP supporters.

FAO Publication: Seven reasons why pastoralism supports a better future | FAO Stories | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
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The Rangelands Partnership is a worldwide, multidisciplinary collaboration that provides resources needed to inform public debate and decision-making regarding today's grand challenges of food security, climate adaptation, public health, environmental impacts, and economic development as they relate to rangelands around the world.

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