2006 Research Highlights
The Carrington Research Extension Center conducts research and educational programs to enhance the productivity, competitiveness, and diversity of agriculture in central North Dakota. The research effort focuses on traditional crop variety evaluation, crop production and management, alternative crop development, cropping systems, irrigation, integration of crop and livestock production, beef cattle feeding, feedlot management, intensive cow/calf production, foundation seedstocks production, and the development of new agricultural enterprises. The central location of the Carrington Center is significant in that the research program is able to address research needs that represent a significant part of agriculture in North Dakota.
This report highlights a portion of the department’s contributions to research and extension. Following are a few examples of our significant impacts and contributions over the past year.
The CREC has become a research leader among the many multi-state research organizations that participate in the USDA’s National Sclerotinia Initiative. The environment and experiences of staff at the Carrington Center make it the only site across the nation where sclerotinia disease control is investigated on all crops (sunflower, canola, dry bean, soybean, and dry peas) of this national initiative.
The CREC is located within a region of the state that represents a broad diversity of crops and has an environment that inherently causes frequent expression by many plant diseases (scab, white mold, rust, ascochyta, tan spot, anthracnose, etc). In response, the CREC has strived to implement a plant pathology research effort that addresses as many disease issues as our resources allow. In recent years the CREC has conducted over 30 field trials that have focused specifically on plant disease management and another 30 trials that collected data on crop variety reaction to diseases.
The Carrington Center is responsible for research across the broad and productive agricultural land base of central and south-central North Dakota. To supplement the extensive agronomy program at Carrington a series of off-station research sites are utilized to evaluate crop variety performance, disease control strategies, and farming practices. In recent years, Carrington staff have conducted trials annually near the communities of Oakes, Wishek, LaMoure, Dazey, Robinson, Cathay, Churchs Ferry, Newburg, and others.
In today’s agriculture, farmers are faced with numerous traditional and non-traditional crop input products that convey potential benefits for crop production. The CREC has established a series of research projects that are designed to investigate the effectiveness of these non-traditional crop inputs and provide growers with an unbiased assessment of their impact on crop performance.
In 2006, the CREC completed the twentieth year of a long-term cropping systems research project. This project evaluates the complexities of farming practices and biological systems on crop productivity. Crop rotations, nitrogen fertility levels, and contrasting tillage systems are factors that define the cropping systems being studied.
Composting manure from feedlot and cow/calf feeding operations produces a low-volume, stable, and uniform fertilizer product for cropland. Cropping system studies have discovered that compost is a superior fertilizer for a variety of field crops and contributes much more than the nitrogen fraction required for optimum yields.
The CREC feedlot research program has established itself as a major resource for beef feedlot information having completed 19 studies in the past three years using 2438 head. Producers are utilizing the wide variety of feeds (wheat middlings, barley malt, distillers grains, soybean hulls, beet pulp, potato by-product, several oilseed meals, peas, barley, flax, and others) available in North Dakota with confidence due to information from the feedlot trials at the Carrington Center.
A growing number of producer-owned cattle are fed to market at the Carrington Center to give cow/calf producers a low-risk, but real-world feedlot experience for their calves. Two separate groups annually consign cattle from eastern and western North Dakota. These animals contribute to the research agenda at the Center. This experience creates teaching moments on genetics of the cattle, feeding and nutrition, carcass quality, and marketing.
Winter is considered a liability for feeding cattle in North Dakota, however, wet muddy conditions are far worse than frozen ground with bedding. Experiments with various bedding materials and wind fences, including trees, have determined that good management can mitigate severe weather. Bedding increases animal performance, carcass quality, and can triple the amount of sequestered nitrogen in manure for cropland fertilizer.
Feedlot schools held at the Carrington Center continue to attract producers and university staff from Oregon to Maine with the greatest number of participants from the 4-state region. This intensive two-day session covers all aspects of developing and operating a feedlot from site selection through care and feeding of the animals, to risk management and marketing for cattle.