USDA advises of near-record cold onslaught

Possible near-record cold temperatures are expected to move through the Northern Plains and Midwest March 6-10 posing a potential impact to agricultural producers, according to the USDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Above average precipitation chances will add to the difficulties, according to the USDA.

USDA advised producers to closely monitor livestock health, feed and water availability and added that calving and new livestock are at most risk.

Be sure to document calving/new livestock losses for the USDA Farm Service Agency Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), it advised.

Now is a busy time of year with calving, but it’s important to keep records up to date and record losses to determine if you qualify for LIP, said Jeremiah Vardiman, University of Wyoming Extension agriculture and horticulture educator in Park County.

Individuals should take precautions when working outside for any length of time, wearing appropriate attire and resting when possible. Water lines to houses and livestock operations should also be monitored.

Visit for more information about precautions and for more information about LIP and if you qualify, visit

UW studies how cover crops, high rates of compost affect soil health

Workers are in a field are unloading material from a tractor loader.
Working on the cover crop project near Albin are, from left, former graduate student Erin Rooney, laboratory manager Leann Naughton, Emad Aboukila, visiting scholar from Egypt, and former University of Wyoming researcher Calvin Strom on tractor.

A long-term experiment by the University of Wyoming near Lingle is studying if dryland wheat farmers can become organically certified through use of compost and cover crops to improve soil health.

Starting in 2015, researchers from the ecosystem science and management and plant sciences departments in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources looked into how soil health and wheat are affected by applying a high rate of compost once every 10 years – as many as 18 tons per acre, followed with cover crops.

The study is at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center and collaborating farms.

“The purpose of planting the cover crops is attenuating nitrogen through the cover crop biomass and perhaps create additional benefits to winter wheat by returning cover crop organic matter to the soil,” said Urszula Norton, an associate professor of agroecology in the plant sciences department.

The cover crops are:

  1. Pure stand of Lacy phacelia
  2. Cold-season nitrogen-fixer mix of spring pea, vetch, lentils, chick peas and oats
  3. A mycorrhizal mix of vetch, bean, oats, barley, Flax.
  4. Cool-season soil-builder mix of barley, oats, spring pea, lentil, sunflower.

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UW range team tops 26 universities to win Trail Boss Award

Students are arranged in rows with the trail boss award
Members of the Wyoming chapter of Society for Range Management are, back, from left, adviser Derek Scasta, Tyler Jones, Nathaniel Nixon, Evan Trotter, Caleb Gray, Jordan Skovgard, Karen Lambert, Morgan Elsom, Jake Disney, Jessica Windh. Front, from left, Ryan Benjamin, Abby Gettinger, Averi Reynolds, Jaycie Arndt, Michael Edwards

The University of Wyoming undergraduate chapter for the Society for Range Management bested 26 other universities to win the coveted Trail Boss Award at the Society for Range Management’s 72nd annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., earlier this month.

Fourteen students attended under the advising of Derek Scasta, assistant professor and University of Wyoming Extension rangeland specialist, and Jessica Windh, graduate student in agricultural and applied economics, from Reedley, Calif. Universities represented colleges in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Jaycie Arndt of Buffalo won the extemporaneous speaking contest at the national Society for Range Management conference.

“The Trail Boss is the highest award an undergraduate team can obtain,” said club president Jaycie Arndt of Buffalo.

This award is presented to the college that generates the highest aggregate score for accomplishment and participation in the collegiate student activities during the SRM annual conference.

Attendees besides Arndt included Jordan Skovgard and Morgan Elsom from Buffalo, Averi Reynolds, Caleb Gray and Elijah True from Casper, Ryan Benjamin from Nyssa, Ore., Michael Edwards from Laramie, Nathaniel Nixon from Crawford, Neb., Karen Lambert from Upton, Evan Trotter from Littleton, Colo., Abby Gettinger from Newcastle, Tyler Jones from Rozet, and Jake Disney from Sundance.

This award is presented with a traveling trophy. The UW Range Club in 2012 also brought home the trophy, making UW one of only two universities in North America to have done so, Scasta said.

Students competed in a variety of contests including the Undergraduate Range Management Exam (URME), extemporaneous speaking, plant identification and the rangeland cup, a team problem-solving contest.

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Crop association presents UW experiment station director excellence in service honor

Man wearing cowboy hat holding microphone
Bret Hess, associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

The Wyoming Crop Improvement Association (WCIA) presented its Excellence in Service Award to the director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES)  for his work with the state’s agriculture and seed industry.

Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, was recognized at the organization’s meeting earlier this month. Hess has served as the supervisor for the Wyoming Seed Certification Service, which is foundational to the Wyoming seed industry. The seed service is managed by the WAES.

Park County farmer Mike Forman has been president of the WCIA for several years.

“We started off with Bret being the associate dean for research and director of the experiment station coming out of the (UW) animal science department,” said Forman, who farms on Heart Mountain west of Powell. “That made us farmers a little suspect of him, but he’s proven to be such a friend of the crop improvement association and seed service. He’s been a tremendous ally in everything we tried to accomplish.”

He also cited better communication with UW in Laramie.

“We’re 400 miles away, and it’s not easy to communicate with everyone in Laramie, but Bret has made it simple.”

The WCIA noted Hess’ emphasis to work with the Wyoming seed industry and represent that industry to UW administration and state legislators through testimony and increased communication.

Other nominators highlighted Hess’ using input from agricultural producers to guide College of Agriculture and Natural Resources research and UW Extension efforts.  In addition to research support, the WAES directs research and extension centers near Laramie, Lingle, Powell and Sheridan.

Wyoming Bee College in Cheyenne March 22-24

Photograph of a beeThe coordinator of the March bee conference in Cheyenne has a few buzzwords about the multi-day event.

“Get your bee on at the Wyoming Bee College conference, open to the world, three days of all things bees and beekeeping,” noted Catherine Wissner, University of Wyoming Extension horticulture educator in Laramie County.

More than 28 workshops and three keynote speakers are featured at Laramie County Community College Friday-Sunday, March 22-24, with three pre-conference workshops Friday.

Registration is $125 for the pre-conference workshops, $85 for the bee college or $195 for both. Children ages 7-15 are free with a paying adult. Cost includes lunches, snacks and beverages and Saturday dinner. For more information, including a complete agenda and workshop descriptions or to register, visit

The pre-conference workshops Friday allows a choice of three all-day sessions: “MN bee squad,” “Raising queen bees,” and “Apitherapy.”

Hilary Kearney of San Diego, Calif., begins the conference Saturday with “How to add 30,000 bees and have close neighbors who may have a hard time wrapping their head around your new hobby. Positive relations.” She is author of “Queen Spotting,” Beekeeping like-A-Girl blog and creator of Girl Next Door Honey, a beekeeping business that provides educational opportunities to new beekeepers.

Continue reading Wyoming Bee College in Cheyenne March 22-24