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Montezuma County Extension office gets new director

Montezuma County CSU Extension Director Emily Lockard, right, was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Young Professional Award by the Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management during its annual meeting in October. (Courtesy photo)
Lockard awarded Outstanding Young Professional; office is hiring two positions

Agriculture extension agent Emily Lockard has been promoted to serve as the director of the Montezuma County CSU Extension office.

Lockard, of Dolores, has served at the agency since January specializing in livestock, range management, ranching programs, farming issues and drought management.

She previously was a researcher at the CSU Southwestern Colorado Research Center in Yellow Jacket, and has been an agricultural extension agent in Pueblo and Bozeman, Montana.

Lockard has a degree in animal science from California Polytechnic State University, and a master’s in range science from Utah State University.

She replaces previous director Greg Felsen, who took a regional position with CSU Extension.

The office is looking to hire a 4-H Extension Agent and a part-time program assistant. It is budgeted for two agriculture extension agents. Lockard was named director and also still serves as an agriculture agent. Open positions will be posted on the extension office website and Facebook pages.

Emily Lockard of Dolores is the new director of the Montezuma County CSU Extension Office. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Drought education and programs will continue to be a priority for the Montezuma Extension office, Lockard said.

A new drought adviser plan will offer $500 and $1,000 grants for farmers and ranchers looking to hire professional services for drought management and plans specific to their operations.

“Creating a plan leads to a more resilient production system,” Lockard said.

The funding is provided by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the program is in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

Also being planned for Jan. 19-21 is an Annie’s Project retreat, a program that empowers farm women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information. Call 970-565-3123, or email emily.lockard@colostate.edu for more information.

In January, Lockard and project partners will report the first year of results of the Restore Net project.

The seeding research program works to bring back degraded lands in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The test plots use different methods to improve seeding success rates that are notoriously difficult to achieve on degraded lands.

Test plots were conducted on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation and at the Yellow Jacket CSU research station. Students assisted with the planting and data.

“The program tries different ideas to help with successful seeding in a cost-effective way. It is small-scale now, but the plan is to use it on a larger scale,” Lockard said.

The reseeding methods of RestoreNet could be applied to restoring lands infested with noxious weeds. The 10-year project is ongoing and is seen as a way to convert crop lands to perennial pasture.

The program had limited success in the first year. Stakeholders will meet to consider new techniques and ideas, and look into how grazing and restoration can work together.

“We’re going to dig in a little deeper. Dryland restoration is really difficult. Each site has its unique challenges,” Lockard said.

Young Professional Award

In October, Lockard was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Young Professional award by the Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management.

The award was presented at the CSSRM annual conference in Rocky Ford Oct. 19-20. Lockard was also sworn in as a CSSRM board member. Colleagues nominated her for the award.

“I did not expect it, so it was a pleasant surprise,” she said.

The conference addressed many aspects of range management. One of the hot topics was the new virtual fencing technology and use of lysimeters.

Virtual fencing can improve livestock rotation efficiency on pastureland and promote better vegetation recovery.

Base stations transmit an electronic fence that produces a mild shock if the animal hits it. The animals are fitted with electronic collars that detect the virtual fence, and it is all tracked on a computer.

The collars beep prior to the animal hitting the fence to condition them to keep their distance. Collars also can be fitted with GPS to track livestock, especially helpful in canyon country.

The virtual fencing technology has not been deployed in Montezuma County yet. A pilot project is being tried on a ranch in Burns, Colorado.

“It has great potential to work as a management tool,” Lockard said. “With this technology, you don’t have to build physical fences.”

The technology is expensive, but there are grant programs to offset costs. The extension office can set up meetings with company representatives for those interested.

The conference also presented the Arkansas Valley Lysimeter Project.

A lysimeter is a measuring device, typically tanks or containers, that help determine soil-water balance, and help measure evapotranspiration of plants.

The technology is used to closely monitor how much water is consumed by different crops. The sensitive system is combines data from soil moisture and volume, temperature, water loss, and water application on a small area. The data can be extrapolated to a larger area to determine more efficient irrigation.