Research Station Field Day is Tuesday, June 19 |

Research Station Field Day is Tuesday, June 19

Dr Merle F. Vigil
Research Leader/soil scientist

This year the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is celebrating its 150th year of service to American agriculture. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, (that’s right, “the tall fellow with the black hat and the beard) established “The Department” to serve the nations farmers. The primary focus at that time was on research and education (Morrill act of 1862). That is interesting because ARS as part of “The Department” is still all about conducting research to make US agriculture more productive. ARS at its very core is about researching methods and improving technology to increase food production efficiently and in ways that saves our natural resources for future generations. And you just thought he invaded the south, started the Civil War and ended slavery. Well he did. Although when with certain women in my family, I feel as though I am indentured and that Old Honest Abe was not completely successful.

Also with the Morrill act Lincoln established the Federal Land Grant College system. Colorado State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and the University of Nebraska (at least one in every State) are fine examples of this federally established education system. These Land Grant Universities are the envy of the world for both ag-research and ag-education.

Our USDA-ARS Central Great Plains Research Station shares in the legacy as a key player in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS, one of the smaller agencies within “The Department”, has had its greatest impact in using research to develop new production technology in an effort to keep US agriculture competitive, efficient and productive. With close ties to producers, Land Grant Universities and ag-industry ARS has helped to make US farmers the most productive and efficient farmers in the World.

Because it is the 150th year it is worth sharing about the other agencies within The Department. I have divided them up into two groups, the larger agencies and the smaller agencies. The largest agency within USDA is the Food and Nutrition Service FNS (school lunch program, food stamps, WIC-program etc). If you ever had lunch at school you have benefited from this agency (of course we have all heard an occasional student say school lunches……….). Is that the student, the cooks, or the program? At Akron, it is not the cooks. I know them and they are good. All I know is when I was 6 year’s old, I didn’t want to eat my vegetables either (especially cooked peas… oh yuck!). The second largest agency is the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with farm loans and price support payments. FSA had one of its’ greatest triumph in stabilizing agriculture markets during the dust bowl days (a good book on the subject check out ” The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan). FSA continues to be a stabilizing force in Agricultural markets. Next is the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) formerly the soil conservation service (SCS). NRCS focuses on conserving our natural resources for now and future generations. As SCS the agency was the major player in securing our soil resources just after the dirty thirties. During that time ARS and SCS were sister agencies as part of the Bureau of Land Management. After the dust bowl years of the “dirty thirties” SCS and ARS worked closely together to develop methods to farm sustainably and conserved the soil resource. What about crop insurance? That is the job of the Risk Management Agency (RMA). With RMA, I think of crop insurance and disaster payments, an essential agency when things go wrong with Mother Nature. Next up is the Foreign Ag Service (FAS) which helps famine stricken countries overseas primarily through the release of donated US grain and other food stuffs. The Rural Development agency (RDA) helps with loans to rural communities for water systems, and other rural community issues. Some rural electric association got their start via grants or loans through RDA. The Forest Service (FS) takes care all of the nation’s forests, from lumber management to cattle grazing to fire management. Finally, the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards administration (GIPSA) facilitates the marketing of livestock and cereals and promotes fair and competitive trading to benefit consumers. The agency also establishes standards for commodity quality ensuring quality control for foreign and domestic use.

The agencies listed above are the larger agencies (in a monetary sense) in USDA. Smaller in size, are six agencies which all added together comprise less than 6% of the annual USDA budget. These are APHIS Animal Health and Inspection Service, AMS Agricultural Marketing Service, FSIS Food Safety Inspection Service, and three agencies primarily focused on the mission of research and education. These are ARS the Agricultural Research Service, NIFA National Institute for Agriculture (a funding agency for agricultural research at Land Grant Universities sometimes in partnership with ARS) and ERS the Economic Research Service.

APHIS, AMS, FSIS keep the nations meat, and other food safe for you the consumer and they keep our food products safe for export. Together with GIPSA they ensure that US commodities are of high quality and that they remain competitively priced for the World export market. ERS and AMS analyze the worlds agricultural production output and evaluate ways to keep our agriculture commodities competitive at home and with foreign markets. They analyze the World Food security and assist other parts of our government including (FAS) in providing food in disasters and famines overseas. Moving of food excess (when there is an excess) keeps commodity prices favorable for the local farmer.

How does ARS fit into all of this? ARS is the in-house research arm of USDA. Say for example a new disease of grain or cattle is found to be on the rise and is detected by APHIS, FSIS or GIPSA. These other USDA agencies will involve ARS in developing methods for defeating the diseases through scientific research. Or they may enlist our help in developing improved methods of detection. ARS may be the key player in identifying the germplasm for both meat animals and crops resistant to the diseases. ARS maintains the gene data bases for cattle, swine, sheep and poultry and is the central player in the development of several farm animal genomes.

What is the Research Stations role? If you really want to get an appreciation first hand come to the 105th USDA-ARS Central Great Research Station Field-Day. This is really an enjoyable time for all involved with the stations scientists and our university collaborators sharing first hand analysis of some new and some old data sets. Having your feedback on what we are doing is important to us. Please come out for a visit. This is your once a year chance to interact with us (and your fellow farmers) on various aspects of dryland-cropping-systems research.

This year’s field day will include many talks from ARS and CSU scientists. I encourage you to ask them about being 500 hundred heat units ahead of schedule this year. Any prediction of when the wheat will be ready for harvest? The 105th USDA-ARS Central Great Plains Research Station Field Day” is scheduled for: Tuesday, June 19, 8:30 am at the ARS Research Station, 4 miles east of Akron on Highway 34. Following our traditional plan, we will have two concurrent tours with ARS and CSU scientists making presentations in the field. This year’s program is jam-packed with the latest in dryland research. You will want to come a little early to register (Registration is at 8:00 am) and get in on The Annual Weather Summary with Dr. Wayne Shawcroft at 8:30 am. Dr Frank Peairs will follow Wayne with a presentation on the “Wheat Stem Sawfly, a new wheat pest in Colorado”. Alan Helm up next will visit with the group about “Herbicide Alternatives for Roundup (glyphosate) Resistant Weeds”. A special presentation will come next by Michael Kostrzewa (CSU engineering) regarding “Understanding Wind Energy Potential in Akron”. Dr. Vigil (that’s me) will then share an analysis of “Soil Water Loss as Affected by Tillage and Residue Management”. I will include the effect of water use by legume “cover crops” on subsequent wheat yields. Dr.’s Scott Haley and Jerry Johnson will follow with a presentation on “Colorado Winter Wheat Performance trials”. Dr. Francisco Calderon will give us an update on Soil Organic Matter in Great Plains Soils. Up next is Mrs. Susan Latshaw who will give us a really interesting talk on “Varietal Differences in N Use Efficiency for Colorado Wheat”. Dr. Joe Benjamin will present “Slot Tillage in Dryland Agriculture”. and Dr. Maysoon Mikha will speak on “Manure Additions on Chemical Properties of Eroded Soils”. All of this, plus David Nielsen our singing agronomist will share information on our new “Cover Crops study” and say a few words about “Synergism in Dryland Rotations” Do you believe? Come join us for an information packed morning and see and hear what your scientists have to share about the latest in dryland research.

Lunch will be provided. The lunch and promotion for the day is sponsored by your local Cope and Washington county Soil Conservation Districts, CCTA, Farmers State Bank, Dekalb & Asgrow Seeds, 21st Century John Deere, CHS/M&M Co-op, Triumph Seed, Quality Irrigation, Bayer Crop Science, Agri-Inject of Yuma, Becker Underwood, Centennial Ag, Pioneer Hybrid International, Wagers Seed, Global Harvest Foods, Red River Commodities Inc., Miller & Associates Auctioneers, Crop Production Services, Crop Quest, Ison Oil Co, Lewton Ag Services, West Plains Co, Wickham Tractor Co, Y-W Electric, Advanced Energy Development (AED) and of course ARS and CSU crops testing.

The field day is open to anyone interested in Dryland research. Continuation Education Units (CEU credits) will be available to certified crop advisors attending the events. The station, located 4 miles east of Akron on Highway 34 (established in 1907) is a federal research site (USDA-ARS). With close ties to CSU, the University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, and the University of Wyoming the station is funded by your tax dollars and exists for your benefit. So come on out, tour the research, and see what your station scientists have been busy with this past year. Our hope and focus is to conduct thoughtful, relevant research of value to you the farmers in the Central Great Plains Region.

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