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Mission and Overview of
NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center


History and Mission

North Dakota State University’s Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC) was established in 1977 by HB-1528 with a mission, "To fulfill those research needs which cannot be accomplished at any presently existing experimental facility, because of peculiar types of grasses, soils, precipitation, and climate, there is hereby established a centrally located North Dakota Grasslands Research Station within an area bounded by the Missouri River on the west and the James River on the east". This area, known as the Coteau area of North Dakota, extends from Divide and Burke counties in northwestern North Dakota in a southeasterly direction through Dickey County.


The Missouri Coteau is a moraine highland deposited in a broad band across the state of North Dakota by receding glaciers some 10,000 years ago. The land is characterized by rolling, grassy hills, rocky soils, and wetlands and lakes are common. While many acres of the Coteau have been converted to cropland, much of the land is highly erodible, best suited to the production of perennial forages. These rangeland pastures are an important resource for North Dakota livestock producers. This area contains 5 million acres (44%) of the state's rangeland where 42% of the state's livestock is raised on 38% of the state's farms.


The legislation that established the Center contained the following research objectives:

1. To increase the range-carrying capacity of native range, yet conserve and preserve it for generations to follow. This program would include fertilization, weed control, and management of native and tame grasses in concert to allow full season use and maximum utilization of the land resource for the production of calves.

2. To stabilize grass production from year to year or to discover how best to compensate for the vagaries of the weather and precipitation as it influences forage production in a dryland agriculture.

3. To identify the impact of different management systems upon the incidence of calf scours and other disease problems.

4. To explore increased use of crop residues and by-products for the maintenance of the cow herd.

5. To demonstrate management techniques and advise operators of results obtained.


Location of CGREC

The CGREC is located in a rural area and we have come to realize that an opportunity/challenge exists for the Center to demonstrate that a prosperous living and quality of life is possible in such a location. There are many challenges daily to locate goods and services to support a large research center, but over the past 24 years the staff at CGREC has learned to be resourceful and determined to thrive–much like the producers and businesses we serve in the Coteau area. The map shows the location of the research extension centers, the agronomy seed farm and the main station. The area served by each of the centers is highlighted by a different pattern on the map. The Coteau region served by the CGREC is highlighted in red.  The CGREC is surrounded by numerous small towns and communities many of which are thriving and prosperous. In addition the CGREC is located between two counties which rank in the top 10 counties in North Dakota for the production of livestock and forages.


Major Research Areas


Industrial Relevance

Since its inception the CGREC has focused on research that gives a better understanding of the natural resources of the Coteau region in North Dakota. Studies in the past have included:

The studies listed above have included a long list of cooperators from the Main Experiment Station in Fargo as well as researchers from the USDA-ARS in Mandan, ND and Lincoln, Nebraska, USF&WS Brookings, SD, and the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Center, Bismarck.


Education and Outreach

The CGREC conducts a winter "Grass-n-Beef Research Review" to allow producers and other interested participants to hear the results of research studies conducted at the CGREC and elsewhere at NDSU. We also conduct a field tour in June of each year to allow participants to go to the field and see the research in progress and visit with the lead scientists and others about proper range and natural resource management.

Each year the center publishes an annual Grass-n-Beef Research Review which highlights the research conducted at the Center. Thirty-five to forty thousand copies of this report are printed each year by the Jamestown Sun and inserted into farm section of the paper and is delivered to all box holders in an 18 county area. In addition to the Jamestown Sun copies of the report are shipped and inserted into the Emmons County Record, and by zip code in the Bismarck Tribune and Minot Daily News. A mailing list has been compiled at the Center and over one thousand copies of the report are mailed to interested producers outside the distribution area, as well as Land Grant Universities in the Western US and to many Foreign Countries.


Visiting Scholars Program

In 2004, an agreement was signed between NDSU’s Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC) and the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Botany to enable a Chinese scientist and his students to conduct research at CGREC near Streeter, North Dakota. This plan, named the Visiting Scholars Program, allows for an exchange of scientific inquiry. Since that time, graduate-level students from China have studied various aspects of the mixed-grass prairie at CGREC. Using the Center’s extensive database of weather, vegetation, and soil information, along with livestock and rangeland management data collected over many years, these students are able to conduct a variety of studies and contribute to the understanding of the area’s ecology.


The program began on February 1, 2004 and is expected to continue until 2011. To date, four of Dr. Wang’s graduate students have studied at CGREC.




NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center