Western N.D. project offers free water testing

The question of whether dry conditions will continue into 2013 is on the minds of many ranchers.

A project funded by the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education will allow a portion of ranchers in six western North Dakota counties, including Dunn County, the opportunity to establish baseline water quality values free of charge. (Courtesy Photo)
A project funded by the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education will allow a portion of ranchers in six western North Dakota counties, including Dunn County, the opportunity to establish baseline water quality values free of charge. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Posted May 10, 2013

The question of whether dry conditions will continue into 2013 is on the minds of many ranchers. While parts of eastern North Dakota are preparing for potential record flooding, areas of western North Dakota are questioning the quantity and quality of their stock water for spring turnout and summer grazing. Water is the single most important nutrient provided to livestock and is involved in almost all bodily functions. Without water cattle would not survive, and water of poor quality can lead to diarrhea, dehydration, neurological disease, and death.

Livestock owners need to be aware of the quality of water provided to animals, and knowing baseline values of water quality allows producers to monitor change. The proximity of oil field activity in traditional livestock areas could result in altered use of pastures and in accidental chemical contamination of livestock water.

A project funded by the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education will allow a portion of ranchers in six western North Dakota counties (Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Oliver) the opportunity to establish baseline water quality values free of charge. Samples will be collected from late April to early June.

Results for pH, total dissolved solids, nitrates and sulfates will be provided back to the ranch owner and respective county Extension Agent along with an interpretation of results. Results from all ranches will be combined and serve as a reference for water quality available to cattle during spring of 2013 and to anticipate water quality issues that may develop during the summer grazing season.

Livestock owners from each of the 6 counties wishing to participate in the project should contact their NDSU county Extension Agent. Participation will be limited to the first 28 producers volunteering from each county. At each ranch one water sample from a well, pond water, or river (not rural water) will be evaluated and additional water samples can be collected and analyzed for a fee of $25 per additional sample. Exact sample location (GPS coordinates), source of water, and source characteristics (well depth, pond measurements, etc) will be collected, but ranchers will not be identified by name in any report/map.

For contact information for the participating NDSU Extension agents or to find the Extension agent in your county go to www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/directory/extdir.htm. You can also call the Dunn County NDSU Extension Office at 701-764-5593.

Published by request of the Dunn County NDNU Extension.


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