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Department of Agronomy

Rangeland & Forage

Rangeland and Forage Research has been an integral part of the Department of Agronomy for nearly a century. Pasture management studies were initiated prior to 1920. R.L. Hensel, A.E. Aldous, and K.L. Anderson built the foundation for rangeland and forage research including studies on prescribed burning, brush and weed control, and grazing systems.

K-State Agronomy students and faculty are fortunate to have access to the Rannells Flint Hills Prairie Preserve and the Bressner Pastures. These rangeland facilities provide an excellent resource for replicated grazing studies. Annual and perennial forage research is conducted across the state at on-campus and off-campus research centers. The rangeland and forage faculty cooperate closely with the Department of Animal Science and Industry, the Department of Agricultural Economics, and the Division of Biology to conduct both applied and basic research. Researchers have access to the latest state-of-the-art technology such as carbon flux towers and a fully-equipped remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) lab to analyze satellite imagery and geospatially referenced data.

The goals of the rangeland and forage program are to protect the grassland resources of the state, protect water and soil quality, and enhance productivity of the resources. Faculty are also actively involved in invasive weed and brush management. Improving the production and efficient use of rangeland and forage resources of the state will continue to have a positive impact on the state’s agricultural economy.

Grassland Ecology

Dr. Clenton Owensby

Grassland Ecology research involves the study of species composition on the state’s rangelands and pastures, and the factors that lead to changes in that composition. The ratio of favorable grasses and forbs to less palatable or noxious species has great importance to the productivity of grasslands.

The grassland ecology research team in Agronomy focuses on:
  • Effect of species composition on animal gains
  • Effect of species composition on soil quality and erodibility
  • Environmental factors that affect species composition
  • Management factors that affect species composition
  • Methods of determining species composition on a wide scale

Range & Brush Weed Control

Dr. Stewart Duncan | Dr. Walter Fick

The overall goal of the Brush and Weed Control research program in Agronomy is to evaluate new and current herbicides and to develop effective methods or management strategies for brush and weed control on rangeland and pasture.

Options for control and management of brush and weed species includes:
  • Biological control with certain insects or diseases
  • Chemical approaches
  • Grazing management
  • Mechanical practices, such as mowing
  • Prescribed burning

In many cases an integrated approach can be used. The focus of the research is to find the best practice or combination of practices to economically achieve optimum forage productivity by controlling unplatable or invasive brush and weeds.

Range & Forage Management

Dr. Walter Fick | Dr. Keith Harmoney | Dr. John Holman | Dr. Clenton Owensby | Dr. Doo-Hong Min

Range & Forage Management research involves the study of grazing distribution, stocking rates, grazing systems, fertilization practices, forage types, and many other management practices used by grazingland operators. The scope of research extends from native grasses to planted annual forages.

The Range & Forage Management research team in Agronomy focuses on:
  • Comparison of different grazing management systems
  • Effect of grazing distribution on grassland productivity
  • Effect of management practices on grazing distribution patterns
  • Fertilization of tamegrass pastures and rangelands
  • Smallgrain and summer annual forages
  • Tamegrass pasture variety testing

Remote Sensing & GIS

Remote Sensing & GIS research involves the use of the latest technology in computerized satellite and aerial data collection to help characterize and manage rangeland resources.

The goals of the research team in Remote Sensing and GIS are to better understand how human and natural factors influence plant and animal productivity.

Research programs include:
  • Mapping grassland burn patterns
  • Mapping the invasion of undesirable plant species over wide areas
  • Modeling primary productivity of grasslands
  • Tracking vegetative conditions on a continuous, wide-scale basis