The coming of higher fertilizer prices is always accompanied with graziers pondering the question of whether pasture can run on legume nitrogen alone. That's the issue “Grazier's Page” columnist Jim Gerrish tackles this month in “Can legume nitrogen do it alone?” “It depends,” he says, on everything from geographical location to how often you rotate cattle. He provides more detail on page 14.

Similar to how city folks team up to repel crime and increase neighborhood safety, there are benefits to be had by ranch neighbors collaborating on pest-control programs. In “Be A Good Neighbor” on page 26, BEEF Managing Editor Alaina Burt details how a coordinated fly-control effort between neighboring herds can stretch the value of dollars spent, and minimize the development of pest resistance to control products.

The fever over ethanol promises to rework U.S. agriculture similar to the introduction of hybrid seed corn in the 1930s and the moldboard plow in the 1850s, Texas A&M University-Kingsville's Barry Dunn tells BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford. In “Creating A Ranch Vision,” on page 38, Rutherford details Dunn's advice to ranchers on devising an operational strategy toward this new reality.

If you're puzzling over your future role in a changing beef industry, your answer may be a niche market that differentiates your product and garners more dollars — perhaps “natural” beef production. But as Rachel Wulf writes in “Goin' Natural” on page 41, such a step shouldn't be taken without thoroughly examining your cattle's suitability to specific programs, and examining all the costs of participation.

It's called molecular genetic value, a new DNA technology that predicts performance based on gene composition rather than estimating genetic value based on performance, as EPDs do. In “Running The Genetic Reverse,” on page 60, BEEF Contributing Editor Wes Ishmael provides the background and workings on this unique genetic evaluation tool, the result of a collaboration between Cargill and MMI Genomics.

There's no industry issue more contentious right now than USDA's plan to fully reopen cattle and beef trade with Canada by allowing entry of cattle more than 30 months of age. In “Over-30 Impacts,” on page 64, BEEF Contributing Editor Clint Peck details researchers' findings that U.S. imports of Canadian cull cows and “over-30” processing beef likely will have little impact on domestic cattle prices.