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Western Region
August 30 2013
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The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center


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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Western Region Web Letter. Scroll down for current news and relevant information regarding climate change and agriculture that you might have missed. 


Do you have or know of any regional research efforts that should be highlight and shared? Please inform Liz Whitefield at [email protected]

NEW AACC Online Course!
Course monitor photo   
The official start date for the online course is next Tuesday, September 3, 2013This 12-hour, self paced course is specifically designed for Extension educators and technical service providers across the nation who serve livestock and poultry producers. Topics include recent weather trends, climate impacts, adaptation and risk management, basic climate science, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation practices, the basics of carbon markets, and communication strategies for dealing with this contentious issue. Please note that there will be new course sessions opening at the start of every month. Please visit the project website below below to view the introductory video, read the course brochure and syllabus, and to register for the course.


USDA Climate Report Published, Public Invited to Comment
The report is the work of 38 scientists from across academia, USDA and the federal government, who are experts in greenhouse gas (GHG) estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors. The report has undergone technical review by an additional 29 scientists.

The report outlines a set of consensus methods for quantifying GHG emissions and carbon storage at the local farm, ranch or forest scale. It is important that the methods exhibit scientific rigor, transparency, completeness, accuracy, and cost effectiveness, as well as consistency and comparability with other USDA GHG inventory efforts. 

The report can be downloaded at:  www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/index.htm 
Western Region Wildfires:
Update from the National Interagency Fire Center:  Six new large fires were reported yesterday, three in Idaho and one each in Montana and Oregon. Successful burnout operations on the Rim Fire helped firefighters construct and improve handline. Tuolumne City, Twain Harte, Long Barn and Pinecrest are threatened, some evacuations are still in effect. Firefighters are making good progress toward containment goals on most other fires in the West. Several fires, including the Beaver Creek and Elk Complex in Idaho, are expected to be contained this weekend. 

Burning Frustration (Capital Press, Aug 27)
Livestock ranchers suffering significant cattle losses and more than 280,000 acres of burned out grazing land in the rugged Boise National Forest are frustrated with the U.S. Forest Service and BLM, claiming the devastation they are experiencing could have been avoided.


Explained in 90 Seconds: How Climate Change Fuels Wildfires (The Atlantic, Aug 26)

In this video, Matthew Hurteau-assistant professor of forest resources at Penn State University-explains how warming temperatures, prolonged drought, and a century's worth of fire suppression policy are "priming the system to make it more flammable." 

Drought News  


Drought Derails Nevada Alfalfa Crop  (Hay and Forage Grower, August 27)
Hay production in central Nevada was down substantially, due to drought and very limited irrigation supplies, stated a hay broker and producer in Lovelock, Nevada.


Corn, Soy Surge Most in More Than Year as Heat Threatening Crops 
(Washington Post, August 26)
Hot, dry weather in the Midwest drove corn and soybean prices higher on fears of crop damage and reduced production.  Crop conditions continued to deteriorate.


Cattle Ranching Walloped by Persistent Drought
(Colorado Public Radio, August 26) 
Continuing drought in southeastern Colorado has left sparse clumps of dry grass on the land.  Since it is not profitable to feed cattle during a drought, many ranchers have sold part or all of their herds.  The Winter Livestock Cattle Auction in La Junta has moved three times the usual number of animals this summer. 

Soil and Nutrient Management  


 Soil Biodiversity Will Be Crucial to Future Land Management and Response to Climate Change (Science Daily, August 9)
Research by scientists at The University of Manchester and Lancaster shows maintaining healthy soil biodiversity can play an important role in optimising land management programmes to reap benefits from the living soil. The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal PNAS, extend the understanding about the factors that regulate soil biodiversity


 Farmers Committed to Nutrient Management
(Capital Press, August 9)
Unfortunately, even in cases where extensive nutrient management and conservation plans are in place, excessive rain can lead to soil and nutrient losses. The effects of last year's extreme drought in the Midwest, followed by this year's persistent and excessive rainfall, provide a very clear reminder of an important and unfortunate fact: uncontrollable weather at the wrong time can wipe out the water quality benefits of even the best farm nutrient management programs.

Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:
Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program
[email protected]