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Ag Division Has New R&D Projects Underway: Part II

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This is my second installment covering new projects started this year. Again, keep in mind that in most cases, meaningful conclusions cannot be drawn from these projects in less than two or three years from the time they start. The information is organized alphabetically by the principle investigator of the study, and updates will come as soon as the information is available.

Grant Huggins recently started a new hunting-lease project entitled "Impact of different buck harvest limits on lease hunting value." The objective is to determine the lease values associated with buck harvest limits. In Love County, we have a ranch that has been subdivided into three adjoining tracts that are similar in habitat and size (about 1,640 acres). These tracts have been managed similarly in the recent past, in regard to both cattle grazing and deer hunting. We offered these for lease hunting, the only differences among them are the following buck harvest limits: up to 12 bucks (No more than four hunters can participate on any of these leases, with a limit of three bucks per hunter, which is the Oklahoma state limit per hunter.); five bucks ("quality" buck management) and three bucks ("trophy" buck management). To ensure that we can evaluate the relative differences among the bids, we required each bidder to submit a bid on all three leases. In the unlikely event that a bidder placed the high bid on more than one lease, we only required them to take a lease they were interested in. By doing this, we will see how each bidding party valued these leases.

Ryan Reuter has started a demonstration looking at lightweight stocker management. This project will allow us to demonstrate the management associated with production and marketing of lightweight stocker calves for high value weight gain. It is located at the Pasture Demonstration Farm in the area previously devoted to controlled rotational grazing in order to demonstrate pasture management systems that can produce high quality forage for 10 to 11 months each year. We will purchase lightweight stocker calves (250 to 350 lbs.) two to four times per year from local (Oklahoma and Texas) sale barns or from sales or buyers in the southeastern United States. Cattle purchasing options will be evaluated before each purchase and will be based on the greatest potential for high value of gain. Cattle selling options will be evaluated on a regular basis and cattle will typically be sold at 450 to 550 lbs. as market and environmental conditions indicate a high value gain will be realized. Marketing options include regular sale barns, pre-conditioned sales, video sales or private treaty sales. We will consider the following buy-sell scenarios: buy in February and sell in May as stockers for summer grass production, buy in April and sell in July as feeder cattle, buy in August and sell in November as stockers for wheat (or other small grain) pasture production, and buy in October and sell in February as stockers to graze-out small grain pastures.

Finally, Wade Thomason has initiated research entitled "Bermudagrass nitrogen timing and in-season rate determination." This work will test new technology developed by Oklahoma State University and N-Tech industries an optical sensor linked to a microprocessor that is capable of controlling liquid nitrogen (N) applications based on the color of the plants. This sensor-based technology has been tested extensively on winter wheat, but this research project will determine if the system can be adapted to bermudagrass production. Variable rate technology is capable of improving N use efficiency by applying variable N rates as the equipment moves through the field. This sensor-based technology will be compared to various rates of traditional broadcast N applications. Except for a treatment that will receive no N fertilizer, the traditional broadcast N applications will begin after green-up (April 15) and be followed by additional and varying N rates after each cutting. Treatments using the optical sensor will be fertilized two weeks post harvest to allow the bermudagrass to regrow some canopy for the sensor to "look" at.