SDSU Extension publishes the Natural Resources Management Newsletter to help South Dakotan's enjoy, preserve and profit from our state's resources
The SDSU Natural Resources Management Department and SDSU Extension would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and remind everyone that if you are shopping for a late holiday gift, consider giving the gift of conservation to yourself or someone else.
Prairie dogs are highly social animals belonging to the squirrel family. There are five species of prairie dogs in North America. It is the black-tailed prairie dog with its tan color and short black tipped tail, that resides in South Dakota. Prairie dogs are an important component of the grassland ecosystem, providing habitat to numerous plant and animal species. They can consume or damage large amounts of vegetation and become a problem for livestock producers when they compete with livestock for forage.
Above ground systems offer a great amount of flexibility in delivering water and options for changing pasture designs over time or space. They have also become increasingly popular with the advances in solar water and fence technology along with an increasing number of producers preferring to rotate livestock more often. Quick compression fittings and a variety of adapters for several thread types allow for excellent flexibility. However, some producers do not desire to maintain as much flexibility in their systems, and for those individuals more permanent options exist without going to a deep-bury system.
Above ground water systems have become a very popular tool to deliver clean water from reliable sources to pastures across South Dakota. Recently, there have been some changes in manufacturing and suppliers that are worthy of note as producers and suppliers design systems. We wanted to share an example of a recent above ground pasture pipe installation project SDSU Extension assisted with.
SDSU Extension, in partnership with a variety of non-government, state, and federal agencies, has recently released a public report on the status of native plant communities in Eastern South Dakota. The report is based on a comprehensive look at the Eastern South Dakota landscape that incorporated the use of field and tract-level historic Farm Service Agency (FSA) cropland history, coupled with high resolution aerial photographs provided through the USDA National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP).
The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small fox native to the short and mixed-grass prairies of the Great Plains. In 2014, I began my master’s research at South Dakota State University monitoring the population of swift foxes around Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota. This population has recently declined, possibly due to various biotic and abiotic factors.
As the fall harvest wraps up and this year’s calf crop is weaned, many producers may be nervous about what their paychecks will look like for 2016. In tough market conditions, it can be tempting to try to squeeze just a bit more production out of the land. However, these incremental increases in production often come at the cost of increasingly expensive inputs and may jeopardize the long-term health of your natural resources.
About 16% of all grazed land area in the United States is forested, and most of the livestock grazing of forested lands occurs in the Western U.S. While livestock grazing of forested lands has been occurring since the settlement era, relationships between livestock and timber management practices, and resource condition are not well understood. Silvopasture is being promoted by the USDA National Agroforestry Center as a practice that sustainably maximizes economic returns from combined livestock and timber production.
Although most people associate wildfire season with the hot, dry peak of summer, the recent Cottonwood fire provides a strong reminder of the importance of fire safety throughout the year. This fire consumed over 40,000 acres of grassland, causing significant damage to livestock, structures, and other property in the process.