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Grazing innovator opens BrownBagger series Friday

Sidney Herald of Sidney, Montana

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Innovative and sustainable grazing strategies, wheat stem sawfly biocontrol and Russian olive management are just some of the topics featured in this year's tenth annual BrownBagger series which begins this Friday at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney.

The 2012 seminar series kicks off with two special grazing presentations by area ranchers Ray Bannister, Wibaux, and Wayne Berry, Fairview. First up is Bannister whose presentation titled "Adapting to change" will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Friday in the Sidney ARS Lab's Tech Transfer Room.

Bannister is well known for his "boom and bust" grazing strategies that call for heavy grazing in pastures over short periods followed by longer rest periods. The system ensures that the cattle eat all the forage in the pasture and not just select plants, eliminating the competitive advantage of those less palatable plants. The long rest period also ensures sufficient recovery time for stressed soils and plants and the end result has been abundant plant cover even in drought periods, all with lower input costs.

To be successful, however. the system requires modifying livestock behavior to achieve grazing management goals. He will share his experience in doing just that on Friday as well. Ultimately he says, to be successful any grazing management strategy must be robust enough to allow ranchers to adapt to changing conditions. "You need to have a system that adapts to change," he says, "because that's what you're going to get."

Following Bannister in the ARS BrownBagger series is Fairview area rancher, educator and self-defined "grass farmer" Wayne Berry, who will share his own innovative holistic management approach to ranching on Feb. 3, beginning at noon. His presentation is titled "What I've learned since 1955" and describes the many lessons he's learned and the tools he's used over the past five decades to accomplish his and his family's goals of enjoying life, while ensuring that the ranch stays profitable and the land remains healthy and sustainable.

The public is also invited attend other 2012 BrownBagger discussions being held throughout the winter months. All presentations are on a Friday, from noon to l pm.

Jan. 20: Ray Bannister, Wibaux area rancher, Adapting to change Feb. 3: Wayne Berry, Fairview area rancher and dducator, What I've learned since 1955 Feb. 17. Jon Lundgren, entomologist, ARS-Brookings, S.D., Managing habitats to promote biological control in agroecosyslems March 2: Erin EspeTand, plant ecol-ogist, ARS-Sidney, Getting information from weed eradication: a case study of Russian olive removal at Ft. Keogh

March 16: Kevin Delaney, entomologist, ARSSidney, Wheat stem sawfly-wheat interactions with spring wheat, and classical biocontrol of weeds

March 30: Tatyana Rand, Entomogolist, ARS-Sidney, Factors influencing wheat stem sawfly infestation levels and parasitism by native biocontrol agents

April 13: Upendra Sainju, soil scientist, ARS-Sidney, Irrigation system and crop rotation effect on soil carbon and nitrogen fractions.

Original Publication Date: January 18, 2012

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