Organic producer suggestions, certification workshop during annual Cheyenne conference

John Gordon of Carpenter checks a box of resources and tools passed among attendees during UW Extension educator Caitlin Youngquist’s presentation “Measuring Soil Health and Fertility in the Lab and Field” at last year’s conference.

Organic grain, vegetable and livestock producers will share information about their operations during the High Plains Organic Farming Conference in Cheyenne this February.

The fifth-annual meeting is Tuesday-Wednesday, Feb. 27-28, at Laramie County Community College, said Jay Norton, University of Wyoming Extension soils specialist and conference organizer.

“This year’s conference is shaping up to be the best yet, with concurrent symposia focused on dryland grain systems, intensive vegetable production, and livestock systems plus a keynote address on the changing policy environment in Washington, D.C.,” said Norton.

The detailed agenda is at www.highplainsorganic.org.

A half-day organic certification workshop Tuesday afternoon features step-by-step procedures for getting and staying certified, said Norton, an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at UW.

The day includes a session on record keeping and a panel discussion including producers who have participated in technical and financial assistance programs for organic transition and certification.

Producers will share information for dryland systems, intensive vegetable production and livestock systems Wednesday morning, followed by concurrent technical sessions featuring scientists and educators from Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming during a total of 16 sessions that day.

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Smith earns Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station award

Travis Smith in white cowboy hat is flanked by four student workers with expansive view from top of mountain behind them
Travis Smith (center) with student employees Orrin Kinberg, Matt Dole, Connor James, and Rian James after a day’s work setting up stock fence and hauling half-yaks and cows to the top of Jelm Mountain.

A Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC) unit manager who ensures approximately 250 beef cows are bred, fed, grazed and remain healthy, livestock research is managed with reliable experimental controls and UW classes and student employees gain real-world experience has earned the 2018 Kathleen Bertoncelj Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) Staff Award.

Travis Smith, beef unit manager of the LREC, was recognized in December in Laramie for contributions in the three areas of the University of Wyoming Land Grant mission – research, teaching, and outreach.

In research, Smith has helped coordinate experiments for faculty investigators and graduate students, including the logistics of moving animals, synchronizing breeding protocols, supervising calving, and managing animal handling and sampling.

“Travis has a strong work ethic and has always been ready and willing to assist. He routinely works long hours and finds solutions to complex animal research logistical questions,” said nominator Derek Scasta, UW Extension rangeland specialist and UW assistant professor.

For over a year Smith has managed 14 cattle-yak crosses in a program to address high-altitude pulmonary hypertension, also known as brisket disease. Smith and crew built temporary corrals in the parking lot of the Jelm Mountain Observatory last fall, and over the course of a month, he hauled about 600 gallons of water per day and delivered about 25 tons of hay to the top of the 9,656-ft. peak.

Smith often contributes to scientific papers, which in 2015 included serving as co-author on research published in the Journal of Animal Science and Rangelands.

In his teaching role, Smith has coordinated student laboratories for UW beef production classes and taught artificial insemination and breeding exercises. Smith has served as adviser and co-adviser for the UW Ranch Horse Team, helped re-establish the UW ROTC mounted color guard, and supervises student workers.

Smith has gained notoriety for managing Pistol and Pete, the pair of Haflinger draft horses that pull the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sheep wagon and other wagons in parades and events around the state. He helps coordinate Laramie Research and Extension Center’s annual family farm day and assists with UW Extension artificial insemination (AI) workshops.

“Travis is a true asset to UW, given his humble attitude, expertise in beef cattle management, and ability to collaborate in a meaningful way,” said Scasta.

Friends and supporters made gifts to establish the Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Award last year. Bartoncelj is a former senior office associate in WAES who worked at UW for 38 years, the last 16 in WAES.

As the research unit of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the WAES funds and actively promotes investigations to increase agricultural productivity, natural resource stewardship, and community well-being. The LREC is one of four research and experiment stations WAES operates around the state.

For more information, visit www.uwyo.edu/uwexpstn/ or contact aes@uwyo.edu or (307) 766-3667.

Grasshopper management team earns UW Extension Creative Excellence Award

Five men with suits and smiles; two of them hold plaques
UW Extension associate director Kelly Crane, UW Extension specialist Scott Schell, professor Alexandre Latchininsky, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources dean Frank Galey and associate dean and director of UW Extension Glen Whipple

Team members who develop innovative grasshopper control methods for public use have received the University of Wyoming Extension Creative Excellence Award.

Members of the UW Extension Entomology Grasshopper Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team, Alexandre Latchininsky, Scott Schell, John Connett, Douglas Smith, Cindy Legg and Lee Noel, have applied entomological research to forecasting and control.

UW entomologists began to explore efficient, economical and less hazardous methods for grasshopper control in the 1990s under the leadership of professor Jeff Lockwood. Now their integrated pest management methods have been adopted in 17 Western states and in countries from Mexico and Argentina to Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Russia and Australia, said UW Extension associate director Kelly Crane, who presented the award in Laramie in December.

The team issued an early warning in 2010 for a significant grasshopper outbreak in Wyoming. They established a communication strategy and delivered training and information to more than 900 landowners and various public agencies through workshops and public meetings.

State-level grasshopper response in Wyoming was the largest in the U.S., and according to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection and Quarantine program, methods developed by the team resulted in protection of nearly six million acres. Savings to the state were estimated to be $11.6 million.

In a letter of recommendation professor Furkat Gapparov of the Uzbek Institute of Plant Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources stated, “In order to protect rangeland and crops from severe losses to locusts and grasshoppers, most countries are using tons of toxic pesticides applied to millions of hectares. This is costly, often inefficient and has enormous negative impact on human health and the environment.

“For two decades, Dr. Latchininsky’s team has provided worldwide leadership developing creative, efficient, economically viable and environmentally acceptable strategies for locust and grasshopper management,” he said.

For more information, contact Latchininsky at 307-766-2298 or latchini@uwyo.edu.

International outlook, grain price forecasts start Range Beef Cow Symposium

Beef cattle specialist Steve Paisley 

Factors influencing livestock and grain costs and price forecasts and the international trade outlook start the Range Beef Cow Symposium Tuesday-Thursday, Nov. 28-30, in Cheyenne.

All events are at the Little America Hotel and Resort. See the list of speakers and preregistration information atwww.rangebeefcow.com.

Greg Hanes with the U.S. Meat Export Federation offers the international trade forecast.

“With the rules for beef trade to China finalized this past June and trade agreements such as NAFTA being reviewed, this is a critical time for beef producers and industry organizations to be aware of international trade opportunities and challenges,” said Steve Paisley, University of Wyoming Extension beef cattle specialist and a conference organizer.

Jim Robb with the Livestock Marketing Information Center will examine market data and influences on livestock and feed grain prices.

South Dakota Red Angus breeder Craig Bieber will share management decisions his family operation has made to adapt to drought. Also from South Dakota, cattleman Troy Hadrick will present the genetic tools he uses for selection and marketing.

Other Tuesday subjects include insight on range mineral nutrition, a debate on genetic testing versus visual evaluation, a meat cutting demonstration, and a meat science presentation by Warrie Means, University of Wyoming Extension meats specialist and associate professor.

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UW Extension offers online GMO information course

Jeremiah Vardiman

Issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMO) will be examined during a six-week online course through University of Wyoming Extension.

The weekly sessions beginning Monday, May 22, are meant to divide fact from fiction about biotechnology, said Jeremiah Vardiman, UW Extension educator who is leading the course.

“This online course focuses on educating professionals in the health and nutrition fields and any other inquisitive mind on the main topics that are discussed or brought up about GMOs,” he said. “Participants will gain practical knowledge on the GMO topic, which will aid in education and conversations with clientele.”

Registration and more information is at bit.ly/gmocourse. Those taking the classes can access the course starting May 11, with materials available to participants until June 30.

Vardiman said he hears from community members and extension educators that GMOs are a common conversation topic and say they don’t always have the right answers or information.

“I also hear from local agricultural producers they want the public to be more educated in the topic,” he said.

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