Powell Research and Extension Center seeks producer ideas, feedback for research
owell – With research stations across Wyoming, the Powell Research and Extension Center (PREC) continues to look at what it can do to meet producer needs.
“The idea is, we do research projects that help farmers and ranchers, either through seeing what we have done, checking out data and variety trials, looking at ways to fertilize or in doing irrigation studies,” says Camby Reynolds, farm manager at PREC. “We specialize in irrigation studies.”
Reynolds, who has been at the farm since September 2013, says they work through a variety of projects to benefit producers.
Since beginning in September, Reynolds has worked to improve the facility, and a number of new staff members have been added to the facility.
“As the farm manager, my responsibility is to get the farm ready to do the research,” Reynolds says. “I work on the farming aspect of it – not the research.”
Irrigation Specialist Axel Garcia and recently hired Research Associate Andi Pierson conduct the research at PREC.
“PREC is looking to hire a weed scientist to have two faculty researchers,” Reynolds adds. “We also have the researchers from UW’s campus in Laramie who do projects at the station.”
Pierson helps those researchers by facilitating research, including data collection.
At PREC, the 175 acres of farmed ground is split into 30 fields, most of which are one- to two-acre plots.
“The first three fields are subsurface drip irrigation. We also have above-ground drip, and everything else is under flood irrigation,” Reynolds explains. “We also have four fields under a lateral move sprinkler.”
Because of their setup and Garcia’s knowledge, irrigation studies are conducted on a yearly basis.
“We also do research on cropping systems, tillage, fertilizer and herbicides,” says Reynolds. “We do variety trials for companies, including Simplot, Briess, Western Sugar and MillerCoors.”
Reynolds further notes that the main purpose of PREC is to provide published data available to the public, and the majority of their information is widely available.
“We also use greenhouses and hoop houses for horticulture projects, and we are growing grapes at PREC,” he adds.
Among the research projects currently planned for the station this year, Reynolds marks variety trials, planting dates and cropping systems.
“Dr. Garcia has put together a project where he uses three types of tillage – conventional, strip till and no till, and he rotates beans, beets and barley – a pretty standard rotation for the Big Horn Basin,” Reynold explains. “He also puts different amounts of water on those crops to see the impacts of drought.”
The project has been in place for several years and is slated to continue for another two years, but he says it allows for several research questions to be answered in one system.
Two separate projects looking at use of phosphorus in sainfoin and sugarbeet production are also being carried out.
“We are looking at sunflower planting dates, as well, since sunflowers are taking off in the area,” Reynolds says. “This study will help us determine the best combination of when we plant and when we can shut off the irrigation water for sunflowers.”
A wide range of variety trials are being conducted, including silage corn, grain corn, barley, sunflowers and dry beans.
“We are working with Briess to do a taste nursery,” Reynolds says of one interesting project. “They produce barley for microbrewers who want small amounts of different varieties for their flavor. We try them so we can have yield notes, as well.”
At the end of the day, however, Reynolds notes that it is producer input that PREC is seeking.
“If any producers thinks of a research project they would like to see done, whether it deals with concerns about production or ideas for the future, feel free to share them,” Reynolds adds. “Maybe we can work together to see how to put those in place.”
Reynolds explains that in an ideal world, all of the research at PREC would come from producers who have questions.
“We can’t do all the research projects, but we can do some of them,” he says. “We try to help the most number of people possible.”
Reynolds spoke at WESTI Ag Days at the beginning of February.