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research farm cuts

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

simmet@agrinews.com

AMES, Iowa — Due to a reduction in state allocations, Iowa State University’s Research and Demonstration Farms will reduce their budget by 15 percent, or $370,000, for the fiscal year that started July 1, said Mark Honeyman, coordinator of the farms.

"It’s the biggest one-year cut that I’ve managed since I started coordinating the farms in 1984," Honeyman said.

The allocated funds are used primarily for salaries and a large part of the reduction will come through retirement, Honeyman said. Five staff are retiring, and those positions won’t be filled. The McNay Research Farm near Chariton, which is the largest research farm outside of Ames, will be reorganized. The primary focus of the farm is beef cattle and forages. Staff will be reduced by two, and most crop work will be shifted to private custom operations. McNay’s sheep research flock will be discontinued. A young farmer is buying the ewes and ewe lambs and renting the sheep barn, hay barn and 40 acres of pasture. There has been a research flock at McNay since 1949.

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ISU’s only other sheep flock is the teaching flock at Ames, and some research can occur there, Honeyman said.

At the Western Research Farm at Castana, the beef cattle research feedlot will be closed, and staff will be reduced from two to one.

"There are other beef feedlots in the ISU system, and it was decided to reduce and reorganize," Honeyman said.

Throughout the research farm system, parts of three employees’ salaries will be shifted from state allocations to operations funds, which come from the sale of grain and livestock, Honeyman said.

ISU’s research farms are working with Iowa’s Corn and Soybean Initiative and the Iowa Learning Farm to expand the research and demonstration that takes place in farmers’ fields. The intensive plot work at research farms will continue as the hub with larger-scale projects on farmers’ fields.

Among the critical issues research farms have been working on in the last two years are soybean aphid management, foliar fungicide research on corn and soybeans, carbon sequestration, fruit and vegetable production in high tunnels, twin row corn, bean planting date and rate, manure utilization and water quality.

"Iowa agriculture is changing rapidly and one way to deal with that is with reliable, site specific information," Honeyman said.

ISU operates 15 outlying research and demonstration farms.

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Eleven are owned or leased by local nonprofit associations, and four are state-owned.

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