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2007 Bradford Research & Extension Center Report

Mission Statement

The Bradford Research & Extension Center provides land, equipment and facilities for research at the plant/soil/environment interface through a field laboratory setting close to the MU campus. It assists MU and USDA scientists and extension personnel by providing a central place to stage, carry out and process field research done both at this location and throughout the state.

Campus classroom teaching is supported by providing field laboratory needs for graduate students as well as educating undergraduates through work and field trip experiences.

Extension, Service and International Ag efforts are strengthened by providing special tours and training sessions to meet the needs of a variety of audiences ranging from Missouri to international in scope.

Introduction

It has been eight years since I first took over as Superintendent of the Bradford Research & Extension Center (BREC) and I must say that these have been some of the most exciting times in Agriculture in many years. The changes that have taken place during the past eight years have been tremendous in not only technology but the use of agriculture products. I would have never imagined that we would be burning as much ethanol and biodiesel that we are today. The potential for developing more alternative fuels is tremendous and BREC will play a major role in the development of this technology. This summer I was preparing to spray a very weedy soybean plot with glyphosate and it occurred to me that not too long ago I would have had to spray at least three different herbicides over a two week period just to have the same level of control. I also realized that we must be good stewards and rotate our herbicide chemistries so we do not lose this technology to misuse. I am also amazed how drought resistant that corn and soybeans are compared to 10 or more years ago. In the past, after droughts, we would only expect 40-50 bushel corn yields, we are easily attaining two and three times that yield. At various winter meetings I am hearing that we have only scratched the surface of modern technology and that average corn yield could easily top 200 bu/acre. Developing this technology and its distribution could not have been accomplished without the more than 35 MU and USDA-ARS Faculty and Scientists putting out over 25,000 research plots at BREC each year. These dedicated professionals also use BREC as a staging area for research across the state logging over 100,000 miles each year. This dedication is the Land Grant Mission of the Missouri Agriculture Experiment Station which was established in 1888 and BREC is one of seven research centers across the state of Missouri. Since BREC is only 11 miles from the main University of Missouri campus it is an important research facility for many faculty in Agronomy, Plant Pathology, Horticulture, and Entomology within the Plant Science Division and Soils, Water Quality, and Fisheries and Wildlife in the School of Natural Resources. Research emphasis continues to change and grow with the Maize Genetics program recently becoming a larger presence at BREC. This program includes Scientist with the USDA-ARS, CAFNR Faculty, and those in Biological Sciences. During the past five years BREC has increased its research, outreach and extension, and educational opportunities within the School of Natural Resources in Wildlife management with an emphasis on Bobwhite Quail Management. In 2007, BREC personnel began an Aquaculture project in cooperation with Lincoln University and the MU Fisheries and Wildlife. We also tried our hand at breaking the 100 bushel/acre barrier of soybeans but came up a little short. However, we are now armed with a new three year grant to tackle this challenge. We also have opened up new avenues in Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture and have developed a relationship with Campus Dining where produce grown at BREC is being fed to the students. In return all proceeds from the sales of the produce will fund research opportunities for undergraduates in Horticulture.

What does the future of BREC look like? As our Life Sciences Center continues to make new discoveries in the laboratory there will be a need for this research to be tested in the field. Energy will also continue to be important as scientists learn to grow more energy on fewer acres and also address conservation and wildlife concerns. As consumers demand more ecologically friendly food, fresh vegetable production that is produced sustainably will become increasingly important and will combine many disciplines. The main emphasis of the research at BREC is:

  • 60% Applied-research that can be used directly by the farmer. This includes Crop Production, Weed and Other Pest Control, Forage Production, Horticulture and Soil Fertility.
  • 30% Genetics and Breeding-development of new varieties and germplasms of soybean, corn, and wheat with emphasis on increased quality, yield, and nutrition.
  • 10% Basic-the backbone of new discoveries in agriculture although several years away from actual farm use. Examples include Plant Physiology/Genomics, and Molecular Biology.

BREC is also an important resource for graduate student training and education. Each year up to 40 graduate students have their research at BREC throughout the various disciplines. In some instances their entire research project will be at BREC where at other times only special plants are grown only to be taken back to campus and used for further experiments in the lab, growth chamber, and greenhouse. An important key in a Graduate Student’s education is the opportunity to participate in the field days, tours, and clinics. At BREC Graduate Students receive an opportunity to get in front of an audience and discuss their research in a concise and clear manner. Undergraduate education is also an important role for BREC with students using the facilities in Plant Science, Beginning Soils, Soil Conservation, Soil Physics, Weed Science, Ag Engineering, and Natural Resources. Undergraduate students also receive invaluable experience working for either BREC or specific projects. This work experience is a critical part of their education and many go on to graduate school or become leaders within the Agriculture Industry.

Each year BREC is the host of numerous tours, clinics, and workshops which annually include: Crop Injury and Diagnostic Clinic (CIDC), Hail School, Weed/IPM Day, FFA Field Day, Native Plant Field Day, Bobwhite Quail Management Field Day, and Tomato Festival. Some of these events such as the CIDC bring participants in from all over the Midwest and allow them to earn certified crop advisor credits. The participants in turn pass this information on to hundreds of clients who each manage thousands of acres. BREC is also used to train waste-water inspectors, installers, and lending agencies from across the state under the direction of Dr. Randy Miles, the Department of Health and “Septic City”. These classes bring in hundreds each year from all across the state.

We are continually trying to expand our scope beyond the typical person directly involved in production agriculture to more non-traditional users such as homeowners and landowners. In 2007 we again hosted the “Integrating Bobwhite Quail Management in a Modern Agriculture Setting” Field Day that attracted hundreds from all over the state. As someone observed; “Those on the quail tour were as passionate about quail as farmers are about soybeans and corn”. Opening ourselves to new avenues of research and education are important for BREC to continue to move forward and not only broaden our scope but also our local clientele.

A good foundation in scientific education is critical in today’s economy and BREC has been a partner in the annual Life Science Academy where top high school students from all over Missouri come to learn about what is new in science. After spending a week in the lab we show them how this all fits together in the field where food is grown. We have also hosted several hundred local elementary and middle school students to learn about how science and agriculture fit together and are a part of their everyday lives. In 2007, we added the Fulton School for the Deaf as a partner. These events are in addition to our annual FFA Field Day that brought in 1400 students from 40 schools in 2007. These events are vital to educating our young in the importance of where food comes from and showing them science in action.

As you can see the activity at BREC is intense and the scope is large. The staff at BREC takes a great deal of pride in the work that they do and strive to make an environment that is conducive to research, education, and training. We also strive to build a sense of camaraderie through our annual picnic (hog roast) and holiday lunch. We invite you to come out and visit for your personal tour.

If you would like to know more about what is going on at BREC please visit our WEB Site: http://aes.missouri.edu/Bradford.

Tim Reinbott
February 2008