GRADUATE STUDY IN RANGE AND FORAGE SCIENCE
Walter H. Fick - Ph.D., Texas Tech University.
Range improvement: weed and brush control, eastern gamagrass production, quality and physiology.
Clenton E. Owensby- Ph.D., Kansas State University.
Range management: grazing systems, diet supplementation, range plant physiology, fire ecology, CO2 enrichment ('greenhouse effect'), range animal nutrition on tallgrass prairie.
The primary goal of range, pasture and forage research is to optimize conversion efficiency of forage to beef. To that end, many research projects are cooperative with animal scientists. Several forage systems have been researched which included native rangeland, tame forages, and livestock. Each forage has an optimum time when conversion efficiency is high and systems which use forages at these peak efficiencies have been developed. A prime example is the intensive-early-stocking of native range followed by alfalfa grazing for yearling steers or direct placement in the feedlot. Kansas has 40% of its land area devoted to range and permanent tame pastures; most of which is rangeland. Even though Kansas ranks 15th in the U.S. range acreage (16,250,000 acres), it ranks 2nd in animal-unit-months( AUM) of grazing produced and 1st in AUM per acre. Tame or permanent pasture acreage is 2.5 million acres. The total native and permanent pasture is over 20 million acres. Research in the range and pasture management area is both applied and basic in nature. Basic research projects deal with effects of elevated carbon dioxide on tallgrass prairie, nitrogen dynamics, carbon allocation, enhanced carbon dioxide effects and rumen microbial dynamics. Applied research centers around weed and brush control, forage utilization, grazing systems prescribed burning and ruminant nutrition. In the future, increased emphasis will be placed on range weed and brush control with expansion into mechanical control and combinations of fire, mechanical and chemical methods. Evaluation of alfalfa breeding materials for forage quality will continue. Computer-assisted forage use planning will also be continued. Basic research in elevated carbon dioxide effects, carbon fixation, partitioning, and root exudation will be continued. Graduate programs are designed to accommodate the interest and objectives of the student. These programs require students to conduct original research. Students receive thorough training in investigative techniques by using modern facilities and through experienced guidance by faculty. Critical parts of the process involve the preparation of research findings in the form of a thesis or dissertation and their publication in a scientific journal. Students are encouraged to develop independent thought as well as a broad spectrum of knowledge. Flexibility in graduate training is possible because of the large number of faculty and the diversity of their research interests.
The Department of Agronomy laboratories are well equipped with modern instrumentation for research in Range and Forage Science. Controlled environment chambers and recently constructed greenhouses are available. Excellent dryland and irrigated field research facilities are available at the agronomy farms near Manhattan, at eight Agronomy Experiment Fields, and at four Branch Experiment Stations located throughout the state. A large inventory of field, plot and laboratory equipment enables graduate students to plan and implement complex research programs which address challenges facing agriculture. Vehicle support provides students access to the diverse cropping and grazing systems present in Kansas. The KSU Range Research, the Rannells Range Research Unit, and the Konza Prairie provide an unmatched resource for native range investigations to be conducted at Manhattan. Special facilities which can be utilized by graduate students include the Evapotranspiration Laboratory, Agronomy Soil Testing Lab, and other service labs. Reference materials from the University Library are complemented by the Agronomy Graduate Library, housed within the Department. Graduate students benefit from excellent computer and networking facilities through the mainframe computer center, and ethernet. State-of-the-art personal computers are available for use by all students.
Incoming students commonly have a Bachelor or Master of Science degree in agriculture, agronomy, crop science, range management, soil science, or related life science. The most important consideration for applicants is an interest in continued study and intensive research in a specific area of agronomy along with prerequisites for admission to the program. Preparation in the biological, physical, and mathematical sciences is considered fundamental for all areas of graduate study in agronomy. Course requirements for each student are determined by a supervisory committee with consideration given to the student's qualifications and professional interests and goals. Research and teaching assistantships, and research fellowships are available to graduate students in the Department of Agronomy. A majority of the students enrolled in Agronomy are supported during their graduate study. Nearly 50% of all graduate students are appointed to a half-time graduate research assistantship. Currently, students appointed to a half-time assistantship receive $10,440 when pursuing an M.S. degree and $11,640 a year when pursuing a Ph.D. degree. Graduate teaching and research assistants are assessed the in-state rate for tuition and fees. An excellent graduate scholarship program provides additional assistance to several graduate students each year.
Applications are accepted at any time. However, students desiring admission and consideration for an assistantship for the fall semester are urged to submit their applications early, preferably before February 1, to enhance their chances for admission and financial support. Additional information about the Department and application forms for admission and assistantships may be obtained from: Dr. R.L. Vanderlip, Chair, Graduate Committee, Department of Agronomy, 2002 Throckmorton Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5501 (phone: 913-532-6101). The completed application form, statement of objectives, transcripts and letters of recommendation are used to determine qualifications for graduate work.
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