Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter

During the month of August, I was unfortunate enough to be impacted by two extreme weather events associated with climate change. In Wyoming, multiple field days were cut short due to hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon. While 2020 saw the second highest acreage burned since 1960 (the highest Read more about Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter[…]

Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai

Roots do everything. They are the connector between plants and soil–the interface at which many of the transactions of life are made. Roots (with the help of their mycorrhizal associates) conduct a plant’s search for nutrients, water, and shelter. They scour the soil for the ingredients of life and support whole ecosystems of microorganisms, plants, Read more about Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai[…]

Drought in the West: The Consequences of Variable Forage Production for Open-Range Livestock Operations—Scott Carpenter

During an especially hot and dry summer in Pinedale, Wyoming it’s hard not to reflect on the looming predictions of increasing temperatures and precipitation variability. The two combining to create high-temperature drought conditions, which are becoming more common across the planet. Growing up on the east coast in suburban Virginia, a drought did not mean Read more about Drought in the West: The Consequences of Variable Forage Production for Open-Range Livestock Operations—Scott Carpenter[…]

The importance of a few places and a few organisms: soil methane fluxes in the West—Uthara Vengrai

Drylands cover about 40% of the world and the vast majority of the American West. They are expansive, diverse places all united by one thing: water limitation. These ecosystems are slow to build up carbon and slow to decompose it, which leaves rich pools of old carbon, the majority of which is stored in the Read more about The importance of a few places and a few organisms: soil methane fluxes in the West—Uthara Vengrai[…]

Inherding: The Concept, The Benefits, and its Feasibility—Cally Guasti

If you visit cattle ranches in most of the U.S., you’ll see two kinds of cattle grazing methods: the first is where cattle graze freely on the land, the second is rotational grazing. But on a ranch in May, Idaho, there is a third method, called “inherding.” With the inherding method, cattle are herded on Read more about Inherding: The Concept, The Benefits, and its Feasibility—Cally Guasti[…]

Relationship-based Farming: Biodynamic agriculture as an innovative approach for rethinking our food system—Viola Taubmann

Cow manure that has fermented in the soil over the winter while stored in a cow horn is mixed with water and stirred vigorously for one hour, regularly changing directions. This mixture is then applied to the soil in minuscule amounts before sowing to encourage healthy root growth.  Sounds like a magic potion? This is Read more about Relationship-based Farming: Biodynamic agriculture as an innovative approach for rethinking our food system—Viola Taubmann[…]

The Underlying Market Forces that Enable Farms to Share Risk Across the Supply Chain—Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar

Our research project with Vilicus Farms focuses on how farms and the supply chain can partner to mitigate risk for both parties, and how the supply chain can reorient itself to share  some of the risks that traditionally farms shoulder alone. The risks that the supply chain can particularly help shoulder include farms’ financial risks Read more about The Underlying Market Forces that Enable Farms to Share Risk Across the Supply Chain—Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar[…]

Collaborative Rangeland Monitoring and Management in Montana

The Range Monitoring Group (RMG), a Montana collaborative that includes ranchers, scientists and non-profit conservation groups, has implemented a pilot project focused on using rangeland monitoring and collective knowledge to inform and improve land management. Our research team has partnered with RMG to identify key indicators to use in range monitoring and operationalize them for Read more about Collaborative Rangeland Monitoring and Management in Montana[…]

Exploring Inherding as a Grazing Practice for Conservation and Rangeland Health in West

UHPSI research assistants have partnered with Texas A&M University-Kingsville and a Wyoming ranch to study the feasibility of implementing inherding in the western U.S. Inherding is the practice of strategically herding cattle in a manner that prevents rangeland overuse, promotes livestock well-being, and facilitates natural-resource conservation. Unlike more conventional grazing strategies, inherding requires handlers to Read more about Exploring Inherding as a Grazing Practice for Conservation and Rangeland Health in West[…]

Innovative Risk & Reward Sharing Between Farmers and the Supply Chain for Biodynamic and Organic Grain, Pulse and Oil Seeds

UHPSI research assistants are working with Vilicus Farms to review and compile strategies for sharing risk and rewards across non-food supply chains and propose ways to implement and adopt them in the food supply chain. Vilicus Farms is a grain, legume, and oilseed farm located in the Northern Great Plains of Montana pioneering organic, ecologically Read more about Innovative Risk & Reward Sharing Between Farmers and the Supply Chain for Biodynamic and Organic Grain, Pulse and Oil Seeds[…]

More Organic Grain? Fix the Missing Middle First—Charlotte Benishek

Where did the wheat in those organic crackers sitting in your cupboard come from? More likely Turkey than the northern Great Plains of the American West. While demand for organic food has boomed in recent years, production of organic grain in the United States has not kept pace accordingly. For those interested in improving environmental Read more about More Organic Grain? Fix the Missing Middle First—Charlotte Benishek[…]

The Monotony and Excitement of Harvest Season in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibboston-Sindelar

I wrote my first blog post at the two-week mark of my internship with Vilicus Farms, a 9,600-acre organic grain, legume, and oilseed farm. I was still in awe, in love with the place, the work, and the people. As someone who is undecided about my future line of work and is farmer-curious, I was Read more about The Monotony and Excitement of Harvest Season in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibboston-Sindelar[…]

Now Hiring Students and Open House

Ucross High Plain Stewardship Initiative (UHPSI) is now HIRING graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in courses to work as research assistants or speaker coordinators during the academic year (September/Oct 2020– May 2021). Projects focus on applied conservation and stewardship issues in the West and collaborate with western partners. All work will be completed remotely.  Information on how to apply and projects Read more about Now Hiring Students and Open House[…]

Bottom-up, Big-tent Community Organizing — Darya Watnick

The Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils is a community-driven organization bringing together diverse voices of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers around soil health. The Collaborative works in a bottom-up, big-tent capacity to explore ways that soil health practices can be recognized, incentivized, and promoted at a state-wide level.  I have been working on grant applications on Read more about Bottom-up, Big-tent Community Organizing — Darya Watnick[…]

From Zero to 9,600 Organic Acres in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar

I arrived at the farm on a Saturday three weeks ago. I drove for three days from Philadelphia to Hill County, Montana. The land first became flat and mostly treeless in eastern North Dakota, where I spent my second night on the road. The third and final day of driving was uninterrupted flatness. Though while Read more about From Zero to 9,600 Organic Acres in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar[…]