Sosebee, Ronald 2012-06-12

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This interview features Ronald Sosebee as he discusses his career at Texas Tech in the Range and Wildlife Management Department. Sosebee describes how he came to Texas Tech and a few of the large projects that he has worked on.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Ronald Sosebee

Additional Parties Recorded:

Date: June 12, 2012

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Interviewer: Robert Weaver

Length: 00:55:28


Life, Born in Abilene, TX, Grew up in Anson, TX, Grew up there on a farm, It was a livestock farm, They grew wheat, cotton, and had cattle and a small flock of sheep, Lived in Anson all the way through high school, Graduated in 1960, Went to Abilene Christian College and graduated in 1964, He majored in agronomy and minored in Biology, Went to NM State and got a Masters in Range Science, From there went to Utah State and got a PhD in Plant Physiology, Finished degree in fall of 1969, Actually finished in September and started at Tech in October of 1969, There were more people from rural areas going into agriculture then now, Mostly urban students now, In his graduating class in high school half went to college and half military, That was during the Vietnam War, In graduating class had 2 Attorneys and lots of others, Most of them were his close friends, Farms couldn’t support them, He still has the family farm but it isn’t very large, He wanted to be an Agriculture teacher at first but changed his mind, Didn’t decide on Grad school until the last minute, Thought he would work for a federal land agency, Got into NM State, Worked on Coronado Experimental Range, Dr. Carlton Hurdle was a great advisor to him, He was with USDA agriculture research services, Utah State was one of the top in the country, Wanted to switch out of range management and got into plant physiology, Got interested in how plants grow, Most carbohydrate translocation, He enjoyed his advisor at Utah State, He chose his own area of research, Career, Came here to tech, Started October 1st 1969, They had $1.5 million for the total and half of that for their department, Started and emphasis on wildlife, They had no wet labs and only one plant lab for their practices, In 1967 Dr. Wright was interested in Burning, They developed an international reputation, His program was one of the top 3 at that time, Started getting graduate students from just about everywhere, Most were from the state of Texas, Had a project that included Brazil Morocco and Indonesia, Had a number of Mexican students also, They didn’t learn a lot of the things they should have, “Always leave the gates as you found them”, A lot of the students didn’t have a concept of the ranching part, Everyone was interested in wildlife though, Major emphasis in habitat management and not just animal biology, Lots of other colleges working in weed and brush control, The head of department went to the other colleges to see what they were doing, Didn’t want to duplicate the research they were doing, Soil temperature is one of the biggest things that affect ability to control mesquite, Dr. Thomas was the dean at the time, He was assigned to work with Dr. Doll, Expedited the research that would prove that theory wrong/ right, Every summer for 5 years they tagged and identified 2500 trees, They had 3 different crews over that time, They worked on about 100 different range sites, They knew what the tree was doing and what the soil temp was, They were all over the place, They did large and small ones and a lot of medium sized ones, Went over to spray at the Wagner’s, It was too hot and windy so applicator couldn’t spray, They sat there for 10 days and didn’t do anything, Working around San Angelo and the pilot didn’t set the break and tore up the truck, One applicator flew the place real low and almost hit Dr. Dole, Former Chairmen wanted them to ask how long they work a week, Ronald told him 80 hrs a week and he never wanted to join and go, Did it from 1970-1975, They had confirmed it by then that soil did control it, Recommendations that they settled on still holds true today, Timing is everything, The last 2 weeks he was talking about that very issue, Herbicide application is time sensitive, They branched into other hard to control weeds and perennials since then, They spend a lot of time also with turpentine weed, Went that plant is the post reproductive stage it is the most vulnerable, If you know how the plant grows then you can kill it, Arial applicators were in the business to make money, Prime time to spray mesquite was during July, Not an option in Cotton County, Only about a 3 week window to spray mesquite, A lot of weeds germinate in early spring, They live through the winter, Kill them in vegetative state during winter with less potent herbicide, Biggest change that is occurring now is the herbicides, Everyone is looking for the silver bullet but there is none, Some people still spray at inopportune times kill off most weeds, When he sprays a plant he expects it to die, Small Ruminant Nutrition Project, In 1992 got involved in another huge project, They are opportunist, Had a meeting with the Plant Soil science department, Group out of NYC with a project to land apply Bio-solids (waste), It was “clean” sludge, There became interested and it was about a month before it got started, It was located in Ranch out in Hunt Smith County, They were all over the state to meet with the EPA, the partners that owned it, For a 6 year $1.6 million contract, Could have went for 21 years, It didn’t and they next company didn’t do it well and didn’t get paid on time, It was a great project, There were 8-9 professors that helped with 35-40 graduate students, Once you have been given the money they become public funds, The name of the first company was Merco, Group of sewage plant construction, Original PI was out of Oklahoma, Ralph Macho is a wonderful guy, No one wants to deal with Sewage sludge, Legislator said no more dumping in the ocean, Incineration takes more energy burned than gained, A lot of people showed up to voice their opposition to it, Only people there at the hearing that had real numbers, TSEQ became their friends, Good science makes all the difference, Was in a quail research project after, Was on a cruise with his wife in Norway and he got delayed

Access Information

Original Recording Format: born digtial

Recording Format Notes: CD copy available in reading room

Transcript: Transcript available on dspace

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