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This project demonstrates the utility of new virtual fencing technology to improve water quality and ecosystem services (e.g., soil health, wildlife and pollinator habitat) of grazinglands by controlling the distribution of cattle on a landscape without the disadvantages of traditional physical fences. This system employs GPS-enabled collars on individual cattle that provide auditory and electric stimulus as needed to control cattle location and implement critical area protection and rotational grazing (alternating periods of grazing and rest) to prevent overgrazing and ensure vigorous vegetation. Water quality, habitat, and other natural resource improvements achieved by virtual fencing will be evaluated using field assessment of stream health, water quality, and habitat, and modeling of water quality and other natural resource benefits achieved. Results will be transferred to an estimated 2500 producers via development and delivery of guidelines, soil health workshops, grazing schools, field days, online videos and content, social media, and extension programs.


Objectives

  1. Quantify the effectiveness of virtual fencing for implementing grazing systems 
    Hypothesis 1 – VF can be effectively used to exclude cattle from riparian and other sensitive areas during critical periods
    1. Hypothesis 2 –VF can be effectively used to implement a rotational grazing system
  2. Evaluate ecosystem benefits of virtual fencing adoption
    1. Hypothesis 3 – Riparian and stream health will improve with implementation of riparian buffers and rotational grazing utilizing VF technology.
    2. Hypothesis 4 – Bacteria, sediment, and nutrient concentrations and loadings will decrease with implementation of riparian buffers and rotational grazing utilizing VF technology

 

Partners

  • Oklahoma Water Resources Center
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, Range Research Station
  • Oklahoma Conservation Commission
  • Oklahoma State University, Department of Animal and Food Sciences
  • Oklahoma State University, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
  • Oklahoma State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management
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