- SNRE Annual Review 2012
- Phase III Document
- Academic Programs
- Undergraduate Study
- Graduate Study
- McGinnies Scholarship
- SNRE Awards
- GIS Certificate
- For Faculty
- Facilities & Resources
Assistant Extension Specialist
Area of Expertise:Grazing animal nutrition and physiology, rangeland monitoring and management, near infrared spectrometry
Prior to starting my current position with the U of A at the V Bar V, I worked for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station 20 years, the last 9 years of that in College Station as Director of the Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab, better known as the "Gan Lab". In this capacity I was tasked with developing and providing tools to monitor the nutritional and physiological status of grazing livestock and wildlife. The primary focus of the Gan Lab is the use of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) of manure to determine diet quality. This information is then used to make better informed grazing or supplemental feeding decisions. Plans are to continue this work in Arizona, both as a user of the current technology and by developing new applications here. We have acquired a portable NIRS instrument and will be implementing a "take the lab to the sample" approach to practical nutritional monitoring and rangeland research. Once developed, this technology can be used to make real-time vegetation and animal information available to ranchers and resource managers.
Drought has and will continue to be an important topic for all of us who make a living from and caring for, the land. Obviously, drought is at the forefront of issues facing all Arizonans. For the last several years I have worked in the Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) programs implemented in East Africa, Mongolia, and soon to be, Afghanistan. These areas are expansive, mostly arid, range is shared by livestock and wildlife, and much of the land is "public". Sound familiar? Smaller, regional pilot LEWS projects have also been started for producers in Texas and Oklahoma. As a result of this experience I hope to not only address our reactions to drought through management options, but also to help develop pro-active drought planning tools for producers and managers in Arizona. Two of my favorite sayings are: "we can all ranch when it rains" and, "chance favors the prepared". Ranching in a drought is not an activity for the ill-prepared. In the pre-Gan Lab era, I worked on experimental ranches in southwest and northwest Texas, both drought prone, brushy regions with relatively large operations. We also did a lot of work with cooperators; some of which were good grazing managers, some were not. This experience really brought home the truth of a statement made by E.J. Dyksterhuis back in 1951:
"The man who has a short pasture needs a rain much worse than his neighbor who has ample forage on the range. But when rain comes, it does the least good for the fellow who needs it most."
Investment in young people will also be one of the primary goals of our range program at the V Bar V. The ranch has already helped to educate many ag students at the high school and college level; I plan to pitch in and continue with this effort. In addition, The Natural Resource Conservation Workshop for Arizona Youth, and similar activities are on my agenda. I also hope to educate those youngsters who may not be directly ag-related. These are the people who will grow up to vote and make decisions that will affect ranching and land issues. I think they need to have a better understanding and appreciation of what is involved and what is at stake. Our rangelands have 1) agricultural, 2) ecological, and 3) cultural importance. One of my goals is to help raise a generation that, although not as intimately tied to the land as previous generations, still understands and appreciates all three of these values. In essence, I hope they will bring some common sense to the table.
I feel fortunate to be here in Arizona, working for the U of A. I think the V Bar V is a great asset to the state and I am looking forward to working not only there, but also with the ranchers, scientists and resource managers of Arizona in the years to come.