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Noble Research Institute Is Investing in the Future

Posted Apr. 1, 2003

Timeliness is of utmost importance for any article being written in a periodical such as Ag News & Views. These sentiments were expressed to me as early as high school English and as recently as now while trying to put this article together. But what can I write about that is timely in April?

Sure, as cattle producers you are wrapping up calving season, trying to make decisions regarding the upcoming breeding season, possibly readying for spring working, and procuring summer grass cattle. All of these issues are very important, worthy of early consideration and provide ample ammunition for an article. However, in all honesty, there isn't much that I can write in an article that is coming out in April that is going to be earth-shatteringly timely. Right, wrong or indifferent, by the time you read this article, the planning (or lack of it) pertaining to most tasks that you should be considering this spring has already been done. Therefore, I am going to leave it up to future timely articles to either pat you on the back for doing a good job or alleviate problems associated with any earlier bad planning/decisions.

Instead, I am going to present you with some untimely information that hopefully you can utilize to your benefit this fall but more importantly showcases a vital and important program here at the Noble Research Institute that is investing in the future of agriculture. Each year, the Noble Research Institute has several internships, available at various times of the year, which provide the opportunity for educational advancement within the agricultural economics, forage, horticulture, livestock, soil/crops and wildlife production disciplines. These internships not only provide the successful applicant with an opportunity to advance their knowledge base by utilizing educational resources and hands-on experience, but they also provide valuable information that can in some form or fashion be passed on to you.

One such internship was conducted by fall livestock intern Michelle Parde. Michelle worked very hard in quantifying nutrient availability (crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrients (TDN)) of native and bermuda (fertilized and unfertilized) pastures during the fall of the year. The project consisted of taking rumen samples, via cannulated heifers, during three sampling periods. The sampling periods were two days long and were conducted during October and November 2002.

An in-depth discussion regarding the results of this project exceeds the scope of this article. However, Tables 1 and 2, as well as the following excerpt (the abstract) are from Michelle's final paper summarizing her conclusions.

"Diet quality data showed a significant decrease of crude protein (CP) concentration in fertilized and unfertilized bermudagrass and native grass with advancing season. There was also a significant differ- ence in CP levels between fertilized and unfertilized bermudagrass regardless of season. Additionally, bermudagrass had more CP and total digestible nutri- ents (TDN) and less acid detergent fiber (ADF) than native grass. There were no consistent trends in ADF and TDN in either bermudagrass or native grass."

Although this project only represents a short period of time, it proved beneficial to many producers last fall when determining supplemental needs for cattle grazing bermuda and native grass pastures. Also, it has laid the groundwork for other interns to replicate in the future, providing a more robust data set regarding forage characteristics, not only in the fall but throughout the year. Along with spending time in the library, collecting samples for her project and writing her final paper, Michelle assisted with several other projects as well as being involved in different facets of consultation (office visits, farm visits, etc.) and even found time to attend a couple of bull sales. We hope Michelle had a better understanding of not only livestock production but agriculture in general at the conclusion of her internship.

The bottom line is that we can never get enough young people interested in agriculture. Our future depends on it!