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Sheridan – The Sheridan Research and Extension Center Field Day, held July 14 at the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) at Sheridan College, educated agricultural producers on irrigated forage, pollinators, wildlife depredation and even growing grapes.

WAES works with its affiliated Research and Extension (R&E) centers to host field days through the summer months. Attendees to the field days learn about accomplishments and experiments being conducted at the centers and other locations in Wyoming through a combination of field tours, presentations and displays.

The Sheridan Research and Education Center (ShREC) has active research and education programs ongoing at its locations at Wyarno, east of Sheridan and the Adams Ranch immediately south of Sheridan at the University of Wyoming (UW) Watt Agricultural Center on the Sheridan College Campus.

Brian Mealor, new ShREC director, led the group, who piled onto open-air Sheridan trolleys to travel around the research plots. The tour kicked off with classroom presentations followed by the tour, which began with a look at a vineyard. 

Alternative crops

According to researcher Sadanand Dhekney, Wyomingites are looking for alternatives to traditional crops, but with the diverse soil and cold winters, they need to identify region-specific  cultivars. The researchers looked at several varieties, with preliminary results finding that the vines planted in the Sheridan plot had a higher survival rate than other areas of Wyoming.

Frontenac, Marechal Foch and Osceola Muscat performed well in Sheridan.

Blaine Horn discussed forage cultivars suitable for production under irrigation. According to researcher, the best growing grass under irrigation was Oahe wheatgrass.

“We planted bromegrass and legumes,” Horn explained. “What we were trying to find is a grass that would do well for a junior water rights user who may be able to irrigate early in the season but then lose their water in late summer.”

In 2015, they planted the plots on April 20 using a drill in the highly clay-type soil.

“I should have run a pivot right away because then it got dry,” said Horn. “We had a lot of volunteer millet and seed shatter. What we found was that the Oahe intermediate wheatgrass has grown the best. The meadow brome grass did well. However, the two smooth brome grasses did not do as well.  Brome grass matures sooner than pubescent wheatgrass.”

Horn advises to catch grasses/legumes at optimum production, harvest them at different times.

“Once the flowering starts, we’re not going to get any more pounds from that grass. The quality will still be good, though,” he said.

Legume production

A talk on productivity of grass-legume mixtures was presented by Druba Dhakal, filling in for researcher Albert Adjesiwor.

Because Wyoming’s yield of forages is generally below the national average, the researchers looked at some mixes using bird’s foot trefoil and sanfoin. The two grasses not only have high nutritional value, but don’t cause bloat in cattle.

They study was established in 2013 using a sole stand of alfalfa, sanfoin and bird’s foot trefoil, along with three stands of meadow brome grass and five ratios of grass-legume mixtures.

“Economically, we found the legume monocultures were the most profitable even after only one year, while the grass monocultures were not, even with nitrogen application,” noted Dhakal. “However, the 30 percent alfalfa, 70 percent meadow brome grass was profitable. From the study we also showed the bird’s foot trefoil can be a good alternative legume in areas that aren’t suitable for alfalfa.”

Wildlife depredation

The field tour was also updated on the status of a wildlife depredation project presented by Jeremiah Vardiman. This long-term study began three years ago in an irrigated alfalfa field known for its heavy population of antelope. 

“When the field was established, it was estimated that about 250 to 300 antelope grazed in this field,” noted Vardiman.

The investigators set up 14 cages or plots to an irrigated field in early spring to assess the damage caused by the antelope.

“Before every cutting we’d compare the area used by the antelope to the protected grass in the cages. What we found is the animals did not make a significant impact to the field,” Vardiman explained.

Vardiman indicated that the antelope numbers had declined over the years the study was being conducted.

“We wanted see what the economic threshold was. How much of a forage crop, in this case alfalfa, can a producer lose to wildlife before he is economically affected?” Vardiman said. “If that threshold is reached, then the landowner can work with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to reduce numbers or grow a forage that is less palatable to the antelope, deer, whatever animal is causing the depredation.”

Keith Klement, director of agriculture at Sheridan College, explained the study involved a number of Sheridan College students each year.

“We had them counting antelope and white tail deer in the field and helping in the lab,” noted Klement. “It is a great collaboration between Sheridan College and the research center to have students able to assist in research projects.”

Poster projects

Following the tour, attendees were able to view the posters produced by the students addressing different research projects. These ranged from the wildlife impact study to dryland cool season grasses and how positive/negative words affect producers’ perspectives.

Kentz Willis, University Extension educator on food and nutrition, talked about how food grown at Sheridan College was used for the dinner that evening which included a delicious basil dressing for the spinach salad, a vegetable lasagna, beef and home-made mint ice cream. The Sheridan County Cattlewomen prepared and served the meal.

Presentations on planting for pollinators followed the dinner. Look for a write-up on the presentations in a later edition of the Roundup.

Rebecca Colnar is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Riverton – Wyoming business owners shared their expertise on June 23 during the 13th Annual Diversified Ag Tour, organized by the Wyoming Business Council.

Deb’s Salsa and Pepper Jelly was one of the featured businesses at this year’s tour, which took place in Fremont County.

Starting out

“I’ve been making pepper jelly for my family for 30 years. Everyone has their little specialty item that they make, and pepper jelly was my thing,” owner Deb Childers said.

To raise money for a trip to Europe to visit one of her children, Childers decided to try selling her pepper jelly at a local farmers’ market.

“I thought if I sold a little bit at each market then it would be worth it. My attitude was that every five dollars I made was five dollars I didn’t have before,” she said.

After becoming certified to sell her fresh salsa and spicy pepper jelly, Childers took her product to the market.

“I had this old, wooden card table that was second hand and in rickety shape, but it was my first table. I set it up at the farmers’ market, set my jelly and my salsa on it, and I made $30. I was so excited!” she noted.

Product display

Soon, Childers began to turn more attention to the presentation of her product and realized that it made a big impact.

“I started selling my product in Kerr jars,” she explained. “As the holidays rolled around and people were starting to buy product to send out to their families, I wanted something that looked a bit nicer.”

After shopping around, Childers found tall, skinny glass jars.

“I like the way they feel in my hand, and I like working with them,” she stated.

Childers and her daughter also came up with a company label, making sure to meet Wyoming Department of Agriculture standards.

“I learned quickly that presentation is what it’s all about. We can have the exact same product in a Kerr jar with a white sticky label and have the new jars right next to them, and people will buy the new jars,” she commented, adding that presentation is well worth the time and effort put into it.

Recognition

Consumers can recognize Deb’s Salsa and Pepper Jelly at a farmers’ market or expo by looking for a white shirt and red apron.

“We all wear the same apron and the same white shirts. People get to where they can recognize us,” Childers said. “The uniform looks more professional, and I think people are naturally drawn to it.”

“Made In Wyoming” stickers are also applied to the salsas and jellies to appeal to consumers looking for locally-made products.

“When this started, it became a business really fast,” Childers continued.

Multiple corporations, such as Costco, have approached her about putting her products in their stores.

“I’m at a crossroads because that is taking another step, and it would become full time,” she noted.

Balance

Childers also has another job in addition to making, marketing and selling her farmers’ market products.

“My daughters and I only have so much time, and we have to come up with a balance that works best for us,” she explained.

Currently, Deb’s Salsa and Pepper Jelly is represented at multiple markets per week, including the Riverton market, Lander market and multiple outreach markets.

“I am cutting back on some of them this summer,” she commented. “If I were to do four markets a week, I would be going through 100 tubs of salsa.”

Childers has recruited her daughters to attend some markets, and she also plans on doing a few holiday expos.

“There are a few markets that I will not give up. I love the Riverton market. I have people there, and I have to see them,” she stated.

Social benefit

The social aspect of her business is something that Childers highly enjoys.

“There are direct sales and indirect sales,” she explained. “If my product were sitting on the shelf, it would probably sell, but not as much as when I can be there sampling and handing it out for people to try right then and there.”

Working along with other businesses is also an important social aspect for Childers.

“In our area, most businesses are very supportive,” she stated.

When she first started, Childers used local restaurant kitchens to be sure that her product complied with standards for selling fresh and pepper-filled products.

“When people call me, I try to be helpful because I know what it’s like. Maybe I can pass on some of my experience and that saves them a little bit of work,” she commented.

Community

Since everyone’s product is a little different, competing businesses can actually be allies as they work together to sell and market their goods.

“I don’t see them as competition,” said Childers. “My salsa has it’s own unique flavor, and their salsa has its own unique flavor. At the end of the day, everyone has their own taste buds.”

Childers does her best to grow her own vegetables or to buy them locally, working with other Wyoming businesses.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is people helping people,” she remarked.

Although Deb’s Salsa and Pepper Jelly started out as a simple idea, it has grown into something more.

“It is so rewarding to me. When people come and try my product and like it, it just makes it worth it. That’s why I keep doing it,” Childers explained.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – With constant threats facing agriculture and communities across Wyoming, UW Extension Educator Scott Cotton notes that it is important to be prepared for anything to happen. 

“Historically, a lot of counties have strong emergency plans in other categories, but they only have two or three paragraphs for agriculture-related emergency planning,” Cotton explains. “About 12 years ago, a team of academics with disaster backgrounds from across the U.S. came together, supported by USDA, to look at about 400 county ag emergency plans.”

The plans were distilled to their basic elements, and a curriculum, titled, “Strengthening Community Agro-security Preparedness (SCAP),” was created to facilitate development of emergency plans in other counties across the U.S. 

“Basically, we want to build the capacity to handle agriculture’s concerns and issues during disasters, to improve working relationships between stakeholders and emergency management and to establish or enhance the agro-security components within disaster drills and mechanisms,” Cotton adds. 

He continues, “The goal is to go back to the county emergency planners to start developing or enhancing plans and move forward.”

Security discussions

The SCAP course is designed to help emergency managers work with producers to establish guidelines and framework for handling disasters. 

“We go through and overview national guidelines for framework and look at where agriculture fits,” Cotton says. “Then we look at the ag risks in the county and assess our capability to respond.”

“We want to identify if weaknesses exist and what we can do about it,” he continues.

The role of Extension during the workshop is to facilitate discussions between those parties involved. 

“Many emergency managers have a limited grip on the risks to agriculture, and they are greatly misinformed about what hits us hard,” Cotton comments. “Producers can share with emergency managers about the resources we have available, and in turn, producers get to tell emergency managers where problems exist.”

He adds, “This is a great communication tool. The end goal is a community agro-security planning committee made up of stakeholders, including agriculture.”

Success stories

Cotton marks several success stories for improved emergency management, marking a case study from Chadron, Neb. 

“In late July 2006, a wildfire burned 130,000 acres and came in on Chadron,” Cotton says. “It took 9.5 hours to organize animal evacuation. No one knew who was in charge, and leadership and other roles weren’t defined.”

Following the disaster, several hundred head of livestock were lost. An agro-security emergency preparedness effort was launched to prepare for the next big event. 

“In 2012, Chadron had another fire of 228,000 acres,” he notes. “It took only 47 minutes to mobilize people. Knowing what role everyone has was the difference.”

The effort provided for movement of 5,500 cattle and 75 horses before fires encroached. 

“Emergency planning really works, and it helps,” Cotton says.

Coming together

During the Casper workshop, citizens from Carbon, Johnson and Natrona counties were present. 

“We had representatives from Farm Bureau, the Wyoming Stock Growers, the Wyoming Livestock Board, local veterinarians, public health and Red Cross,” Cotton describes. “We put all of them together, and they started asking what each can offer.”

Johnson County Emergency Manager Marilyn Connolly says she attended the workshop to better incorporate the county’s agriculture producers into their emergency planning processes. 

“Ag is a big part of our community that we’ve ignored in the emergency planning process,” Connolly explains. “It wasn’t on purpose that ag was left out, but we have always expected that the ag community will take care of themselves. They are very independent and often have their own plans.”

Connolly saw the workshop as an opportunity to develop a plan and relationships. 

“We do have an agro-terrorism annex in our county plan, but I didn’t care for the way it was laid out,” she says. “I thought this was a good opportunity to get information to come back together and talk about what we can do to be prepared.”

In Johnson County, the process is currently in place to begin meeting with stakeholders to improve agro-security. 

Moving out

However, Connolly notes that the impacts of the program should continue to grow. 

“I think we need to get more ag people involved,” she says. “It would be really neat to get more people involved from each region of the state.”

During the Casper workshop, Connolly comments that a large number of agency and government officials were present, but she hopes that producers get involved.

“I see value in having more people from the ag community come and meet with emergency managers,” Connolly comments.

Cotton and other members of the UW Extension Disaster Education Network hope to expand this course and others around the state, holding workshops in regions to allow two to three counties to attend each location.

“Putting emergency services and agriculture together helps both sides,” Cotton comments. “This is about resilience. If agriculture survives, communities stay stronger.”

Success across the U.S.

Since beginning of the Strengthening Community Agro-security Preparedness (SCAP) program, UW Extension Educator Scott Cotton notes that 318 counties across the U.S. have been reached, serving nearly 22 million producers in 34 states. 

“Wyoming is one of the last two states to address agro-security preparedness,” Cotton notes, mentioning that the first SCAP workshop was held in the state on Sept. 24-25 in Casper. 

The 43 workshops conducted across the U.S. up to 2013 have brought Extension educators, emergency managers, public health, animal control and first responders together with veterinarians, producers, commodity organizations, agribusiness and governments to address agriculture in emergency and disaster plans. 

 

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Plant health, animal health, environmental health and human health are all inter-related,” USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sonny Ramaswamy says. “The only way we’re going to be able to secure our future is by focusing on all of these.” 

For sustainability, Ramaswamy says farmers must be concerned about three things – productivity, ecological footprint and profitability.

“Farmers have to be able to produce more things using fewer inputs,” he says. “If all of the innovation, however, doesn’t support profitability for our farmers, we might as well close shop and go home.”

“All the greatest inventions and discoveries made by professors, PhD students and more means nothing at all if it doesn’t take profitability into account,” Ramaswamy emphasizes. “The flip side of that is we have to have consumers, as well.” 

Consumer perspective

Consumers consider access to food, affordability and nutrition when making food choices.

Across the U.S., food deserts are present, where Americans don’t have easily accessible food. 

“Easy access to food often comes from the local 7/11 or McDonalds, which gives 1,300 calories or more per meal,” he described, noting food also has to be nutritionally sufficient to ensure needs are being met. 

For children specifically, the first 1,000 days of growth are critical, and in area with food deserts, American children see some of the same nutritional deficiencies as African children in very poor countries. 

“We have to ensure the innovations we make will nutritionally help people develop and grow,” he says. 

Ecological footprint

Another component to the conversation is the ecological footprint of food and agriculture, which is “one of the most intensely expensive ecological propositions for us,” says Ramaswamy. 

Almost one-fifth of the energy consumed is in food, he says. 

“We’ve got to cut the ecological footprint by at least 50 percent,” he comments.  

A variety of research giants across the globe on working on reducing the ecological footprint of the agriculture industry, according to Ramaswamy, who says, “Everybody has a stake in this matter, but unless we set our minds to wanting to do it, we’re not going to get there.” 

Low-hanging fruit

Helping to protect agriculture’s future extends beyond the use of genomics, drones, robotics and other technologies, Ramaswamy says, highlighting food waste and food loss as big challenges.

“Globally, in developing countries, one-third to one-half of food is lost before the dinner table,” he says. “In countries like America, Canada and western Europe, one-third to one-half of food is lost after the dinner table.”

The Economic Research Service says, in America, the enemy is Americans themselves, who collectively waste 131 billion pounds of food each year, which constitutes 1,200 calories of food per man, woman and child each day. 

“An average adult needs about 2,100 calories to thrive – not just to survive, and 1,200 calories is a bit more than half of the caloric need we have.” 

He emphasizes simple efforts that can be made to reduce food waste and food loss. Notably, Ramaswamy pointed to sell by and best by dates as important  for consumers to pay attention to. 

At the same time, when it comes to produce, Ramaswamy says that every time a consumer touches a piece of produce, germs are deposited on the fruit or vegetable, which can accelerate degradation. 

Portion control can also alleviate food waste. 

“We leave a lot of food on our plates, too, which contributes to the 131 billion pounds of food waste,” he says. “That’s like taking the cash from our pockets and throwing it in the garbage.”

Innovation

Further, Ramaswamy says, “We really need innovations from individuals to address food waste, as well.”

For example, Ramaswamy highlighted innovation from students at the University of Maryland, who came up with the idea to take food and vegetables disposed by grocery stores because they were soft or bruised and turning it into “ugly juice.”

“We don’t know what’s in there, but it tastes so good, we consume it,” he says. 

Fuel can also be make from food sources, as well. 

Biodiesel can be created from used French fry oil and more. 

“It’s not only on the production side that we need innovation but on the other side, as well,” Ramaswamy says.

However, Ramaswamy cautions Americans to be certain actions don’t have unintended consequences. 

“We need to pay attention to unintended consequences,” he says. 

At the end of the day, however, Ramaswamy says it is important to always remember profitability before taking action.

“Farm incomes the last five years or so have been very depressed, both in America and globally,” Ramaswamy says. “A lot of farmers are leaving the industry.” 

Path forward

Despite challenges, Ramaswamy sees a path forward for the future of American agriculture.

“For a long time, everything we did was observational,” he describes. “In the last three decades or so, we switched to informational science. Today, we are on the threshold of it predictive science. We should be able to predict how many pounds of meat or milk a cow will produce or how many bushels a corn plant will product.”

Opportunities for innovation exist throughout the entire supply chain, he adds, from the farm to the trash can.

Ramaswamy adds, “We need smart minds to help us think this through.”

Ramaswamy presented at the 2017 Ag BioSciences Innovation Summit, held in Indiana.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

From June 16-23, 12 Argentine’s visited Wyoming with the goal of learning more about the state’s agriculture industry. 

The group was comprised of members of the Argentina’s cattlemen’s association – the Asociacion de Gambderos de Bahía Blanca – and aim to begin an exchange between the two countries. 

“I belong to a local association in Argentina,” said Mariano González Martínez. “We decided to set up a group and visit Wyoming. We are all cattlemen, and we wanted to see another perspective of the current industry, from the cow/calf operations to research and livestock sale barns.”

Wyoming Business Council’s Livestock Genetics Program Manager Scott Keith commented, “The purpose of this trip is really educational, and I think it is very positive.”

Similarities and differences

“Wyoming is the closest in the U.S. to Argentina as far as cattle production – it is very similar,” González Martínez said. “We also do a lot of production on the range.”

While they graze cattle, González Martínez marked some differences in grazing management.

“We have more carrying capacity on our land, so we can keep more cows per land unit,” he said. “The main difference is in finishing cattle. We don’t get any snow, so we don’t get to feed cattle in the winter. They graze year-round.”

González Martínez added that management is very similar in many ways.

“We have some of the same problems as cattlemen here do with taxes and drought,” he said. “We had a severe drought in 2009, and Argentina lost 10 million head of cattle. We have been recovering the past few years.”

“The big differences are in prices and costs,” he continued, adding that government regulations also are challenging, particularly in the current political climate in Argentina.

Tour

In coming to Wyoming, the group visited a wide variety of operations.

“We saw some purebred cattle operations, Torrington Livestock Exchange, the University’s experiment station at Lingle, the feedlot at True Cattle Company and some commercial operations,” added González Martínez. “We got a good overview of how the cattle industry is in the state.”

Keith also noted they visited other places, like the Terry Bison Ranch, the hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming Whiskey in Kirby and Lou Taubert’s in Casper. In total, they visited two commercial operations, four purebred ranches and a number of industry sites.

“They got quite a bit of exposure to Wyoming’s industry,” Keith added. “It was a tremendous week, and the group was very engaged and interested in all that we are doing.”

Fourth generation cattle producer Mariano D’Amore commented, “Wyoming is very similar to Argentina. The cattle, crops and rain are all similar.”

“The things we have seen are very close to our own country, but different in some ways,” he continued. “We enjoyed the tour very much.”

Keith added that he appreciates the participation of Wyoming producers and groups that made the tour so successful.

“We are from very similar environments, but both places have a different approach to production, and it is a healthy exchange,” commented UW Extension Beef Specialist Steve Paisley.

Exchange program

“This is an exchange program,” said González Martínez of the tour. “We try to give our perspective on Wyoming programs and issues, and we are trying to gain perspective from your way of doing things that could help us.”

Despite slightly different systems, González Martínez commented that there are many ideas and systems that can help to improve their production.

“Most of the differences are simply details, and they are very useful,” he continued.

“We would really love to have people from Wyoming come down to Argentina and visit our places,” commented González Martínez. “This is just the beginning.”

Educational opportunity

Working between the University of Southern Argentina and the University of Wyoming, González Martínez, Paisley and Keith noted that they would like to see an exchange program develop.

“We would like it to be a two-way street,” said González Martínez. “People from Wyoming would spend time in Argentina, and Argentines would come up to Wyoming.”

Keith said that the tour was part of a three-part program being developed.

“Phase one would include classroom studies during exchanges, including concentrated short courses about ranch management and similar subjects,” explained Keith. “The second component would be internships for Wyoming students to Argentina and Argentine students to Wyoming.”

Though just a vision right now, Keith explained that ideally, students would spend as long as six months working on cattle ranches in each country to experience the similarities and differences first hand.

“The third component is exchanging adult education,” he added. “This trip fits that component.”

Paisley noted that the program is a pilot program aimed to continue educational opportunities.

“Both universities are interested in developing a Memorandum of Understanding, so hopefully we will get some educational coordination between the two,” Paisley explained. “The beef industry is becoming a global industry, and I think there are things we can learn.”

“From the exchange, we have gained a lot,” commented González Martínez,
“and hopefully we can give something back to the people that are receiving us.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..