Ranchers in the central Great Plains may be using some of their winter downtime in the future to rehearse the upcoming production season, all from the warmth of their homes, according to USDA soil scientists.

The ranchers would use the GPFARM (Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management)-Range computer model to see which cattle or sheep stocking rate scenarios are sustainable. Soil scientists Gale Dunn and Laj Ahuja with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are testing the model in enough locations to get the model fully usable throughout the central Great Plains.

Dunn and research leader Ahuja work at the ARS Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins, CO. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting agricultural sustainability.

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