U of I Projects Selected for $1.28 Million in Grants Target Tech for Rangeland Management
July 30, 2018
GPS-collared cattle will soon roam ranches in southern Idaho and northeastern Oregon in an effort to better understand grazing patterns on large rangeland landscapes.
The project, called “Deploying CERT” (Climate Engine Rangeland Tool), is led by University of Idaho researchers and is one of two related projects selected to receive a total of $1.28 million in grant funding by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program.
The second U of I-led project engages the Rangelands Partnership, a collaborative of rangeland professionals and librarians in 19 states, to improve access to rangeland management information and literature through a national grazing land information system.
By pairing satellite imagery with technology to track cows and field estimates of forage, the CERT project aims to create a new management tool to assist private ranchers and public land managers.
“Currently, the primary source of information we have on how livestock use rangeland forage is limited field observations,” said Jason Karl, College of Natural Resources associate professor and the project lead. “Ultimately our goal is to create map-based products to make more accurate estimates over time of forage availability and consumption by livestock. That will be an important management tool, and it’s one that we don’t really have yet.”
To get better data, Karl’s team will outfit cows at Rock Creek Ranch in Idaho and the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in Oregon with GPS collars developed at U of I. While GPS has been used to study livestock in the past, previous studies were often limited to tracking just a few cattle because of the cost of the devices. Karl has developed a small, low-cost GPS collar that will allow his team to outfit entire herds.
The GPS data will be used to more effectively link on-the-ground observations of forage utilization with remote sensing techniques developed by U of I doctoral candidate Vincent Jansen. The resulting maps and forage utilization data will be built into the CERT, an online tool to analyze and visualize information on how much forage the cows consume.
Both projects have multiple partners. U of I’s partners on the Deploying CERT project are the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Also, the site of one of the research herds, Rock Creek Ranch, is a collaboration among U of I, the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Wood River Land Trust. U of I’s partners on the National Grazingland Information System project are the Rangelands Partnership, University of Arizona and Altar Valley Conservation Alliance.
The project, “Deploying CERT (Climate Engine Rangeland Tool),” has been recommended for funding by the USDA. The total amount of anticipated federal funds for the project is $661,118, which amounts to 50 percent of the total cost of the project. The USDA grant number associated with this project is yet to be determined.
The project, “A National Grazingland Information System,” has been recommended for funding by the USDA. The total amount of anticipated federal funds for the project is $616,587, which amounts to 50 percent of the total cost of the project. The USDA grant number associated with this project is yet to be determined.
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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu