Wyoming agricultural producers share soil practices in new videos

Fremont County producer Mike Fabrizius and extension educator Caitlin Youngquist
Mike Fabrizius of the Mile High Ranch and extension educator Caitlin Youngquist examine how organic matter has increased over the years due to Fabrizius’ soil management practices.

Wyoming agricultural producers share soil practices in new videos
Farmers and ranchers in five Wyoming counties in a series of videos describe innovative soil practices they say are cost-effective and help maintain profitability.

Producers in Big Horn, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs and Washakie counties are featured in the eight videos, “Soil Management on Wyoming Farms and Ranches,” available at bit.ly/wyomingsoils.

University of Wyoming Extension educator Caitlin Youngquist developed the videos of farmers and ranchers showing practices specific to Wyoming.

They offer a convenient reference for local practices that truly function in Wyoming, said Youngquist, who is based in Washakie County and serves northern Wyoming.

“It is a mini-field day idea,” she said. “You get to learn the kinds of things you would by sitting down with these producers and having coffee while asking questions or walking around the farm with them and hearing their stories of what they have tried.”

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UW publication series untangles solar electric investments

solar-seriesFree publications unraveling solar electric investment complexities are available through the cooperative extension systems at the University of Wyoming and The Ohio State University.

Extension educators collaborated to produce the six-part “Solar Electric Investments” focused on incentives for agricultural operations, but they also apply to residences, said Benjamin Rashford, natural resource economics specialist with UW Extension.

OSU Extension energy development specialist Eric Romich said evaluating the financial return of an investment in solar electric requires considering system costs, tax implications, value of energy production, incentives, contracts and recurring costs.

“Some proposals are hard to understand, making it difficult to make fully informed investment decisions,” Romich said. “This bulletin series allows producers to work with the information on their own terms.”

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UW scientist starts three-year, three-state alfalfa study

Extension forage specialist Anowar Islam atop the drill used to plant alfalafa plots at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle. Ph.D. student Dennis Ashilenje, middle, and master's student Saugat Baskota assist. A single variety is planted through the seven tubes for each 5-foot by 20-foot plot.
Extension forage specialist Anowar Islam atop the drill used to plant alfalafa plots at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle. Ph.D. student Dennis Ashilenje, middle, and master’s student Saugat Baskota assist. A single variety is planted through the seven tubes for each 5-foot by 20-foot plot.

Alfalfa seed has already been planted to start a three-year study in three states to develop potassium information and improve alfalfa production and quality within the central and western U.S.

Plots were seeded earlier this month at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle, with additional studies near Fort Collins, Colo., and Manhattan, Kan., said Anowar Islam, University of Wyoming Extension forage specialist.

The field studies are part of a $250,000 USDA grant Islam received. Collaborators include forage specialist Joe Brummer of Colorado State University and forage management assistant professor Doo-Hong Min at Kansas State University.

Islam said the benefits could be extensive.

“Our potassium fertility management program will improve persistence of alfalfa stands through better nutrient management,” he said.

Scientists will focus on alfalfa growth, yield and quality by applying different levels of potassium under two cutting intervals. Potassium uptake data and forage quality of selected alfalfa cultivars (low lignin vs. conventional) at different stages will be collected.

Information will be disseminated through a planned regional alfalfa workshop with state-specific results through local extension programs and by articles and bulletins.

Islam said the information will modify outdated central and western U.S. alfalfa soil fertility guides. The group will initiate an alfalfa community of practice within eXtension, a long-term venue of communicating the latest findings on alfalfa nationally and internationally.

Contact Islam at 307-766-4151 or mislam@uwyo.edu for more information.

UW scientists find Huntington’s disease mice respond differently to common infection

Molecular biologist Jason Gigley, front left, and veterinary sciences researcher Jonathan Fox, front right, collaborated to determine the effects of an infectious diease on mice with Huntington's disease. The grant allowed veterinary sciences Ph.D. student David Donley, back left, and psychology undergraduate student Andrew Olson, now graduated, to participate in the research.
Molecular biologist Jason Gigley, front left, and veterinary sciences researcher Jonathan Fox, front right, collaborated to determine the effects of an infectious diease on mice with Huntington’s disease. The grant allowed veterinary sciences Ph.D. student David Donley, back left, and psychology undergraduate student Andrew Olson, now graduated, to participate in the research.

Casual conversation three years ago between University of Wyoming veterinary sciences and molecular biology researchers resulted in findings that show for the first time mice engineered to have the human genetic disorder Huntington’s disease have an altered immune response to a common infection.

They are now seeking funds to pursue additional studies to understand how infectious processes may interact with Huntington’s, which is caused by a single gene mutation.

Jonathan Fox in veterinary sciences and Jason Gigley in molecular biology exposed mice with Huntington’s disease (HD) to toxoplasmosis, a common and widespread infection. Their research found such mice die sooner and have an altered immune response, and that could reveal facts about not only Huntington’s but also the interaction between infectious diseases and related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and prion diseases, in humans, they said.

Fox and Gigley refuse to speculate if the response they observed may be the same in humans with HD – Fox’s research focus – but do say they believe they’ve found one factor that could contribute to the variability of when symptoms appear in humans.

That varies greatly from childhood to old age, but for most people it’s in early adult life.

“We know environmental factors contribute to the large variability in age of disease onset, but next to nothing is known about which environmental factors are involved,” said Fox.

Toxoplasmosis, caused by Toxoplasma gondii, appears to make mouse HD worse.

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UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources presents ag director, producers, wool growers group annual awards

A long-time collaborator and owner of an 8,500-head feedlot and farm and the director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) are Outstanding Alumni Award recipients from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A Gillette rancher who many have tapped for his expertise is being recognized with the Legacy Award for his giving to the college and university, and the Wyoming Wool Growers Association was named the college’s Outstanding Research Partner Award recipient.

They will be recognized during Ag Appreciation Weekend Sept. 16-17 in Laramie.

Outstanding Alumni

Bill Gross
Bill Gross

William Gross graduated from the college in 1961 with an animal science degree and eventually doubled his family’s cow-calf stocker operation to 8,500 head near Pine Bluffs. The family also has irrigated and dryland crop ground.

“Bill has utilized the formal education he received at UW to build an outstanding farming and ranching operation,” said nominator Paul Lowham of Jackson. “He has grown it financially and has included family members, who will ensure its sustainability.”

Doug Miyamoto
Doug Miyamoto

Rawlins native Douglas Miyamoto earned his BS (1996) and MS (2001) in rangeland ecology and watershed management. From 1999 to 2014, he served in multiple capacities with the Natural Resources Conservation Service before Gov. Matt Mead appointed him WDA director.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean’s Advisory Board is one of many boards and commissions on which Miyamoto serves at state and federal levels.

“It is without question Doug has distinguished himself in his professional life and put his degrees to good use,” wrote nominator John Tanaka, associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station.

Legacy Award

John Hines

Long-time legislator John Hines turned around his self-described early lackluster performance managing a ranch and has grown his Gillette-area operation into one that attracts many people seeking his expertise.

Hines used the endowment gift matching funds program at UW to create the Hines Family Scholarship in 2005. Hines was appointed to serve by then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal on the first Wyoming Brucellosis Coordination Team. He’s made donations to the UW veterinary diagnostic laboratory to help purchase diagnostic equipment, and his charitable gift fund benefits the Wildlife-Livestock Health Program and UW athletics.

Research Partner

Members of the Wyoming Wool Growers Board of Directors include, from left, Vance Broadbent, executive director Amy Hendrickson, Jim Dona, Kay Neves, Lisa Keeler, Peter John Camino, Regan Smith, John Marton, and Bob Harlan.
Members of the Wyoming Wool Growers Board of Directors include, from left, Vance Broadbent, executive director Amy Hendrickson, Jim Dona, Kay Neves, Lisa Keeler, Peter John Camino, Regan Smith, John Marton, and Bob Harlan.

The Wyoming Wool Growers Association, which has collaborated with the college in ram tests since 1961, is the Outstanding Research Partner Award recipient. The association partners with the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative to conduct a black face ram sire test and a white face ram sire test with UW. Both are at the Laramie Research and Extension Center. Fleece characteristics are measured and combined with gain data to create an overall index.

There are nine active sheep-related research projects in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in addition to the annual black face and white face ram sire tests.

The annual Ag Day Barbecue, which benefits agricultural student organizations, is 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday in the southwest corner of the Indoor Practice Facility prior to the University of Wyoming-UC Davis football game.
Feature stories about the award recipients are at bit.ly/2016agawards.