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New horizons: PREC hosts field day showcasing research, opportunities in crop production

Written by Emilee Gibb

Powell – On July 13, interested individuals from as far as Mexico came to Powell for the University of Wyoming’s (UW) Powell Research and Extension Center (PREC) Field Day.

During the event, attendees heard updates on UW Extension, toured the facilities to look at research plots and visited with researchers during a poster session.

Expanding

PREC Director Bret Hess explained to field day attendees that the online database for UW Extension is currently expanding to increase usability.

“We have an online process where our researchers request to use the center, and in that process, we’re asking them to put in keywords, so visitors can see some of the ongoing research that is being conducted,” he said.

He continued, “We’re expanding that database to include all of the refereed publications that are produced by our researchers. We ask them to include a description of some of the work that relates to the production ag research priorities.”

The online database will continue to allow users to look up previous field day bulletins, as well.

“This year, we’ll be able to search all of our refereed research publications and the ongoing research in our online system, as well as all of the previous field day bulletins to give a synopsis of some of the things we’re doing regarding any types of commodity producers are interested in dealing with,” commented Hess.

Research

During the field day, attendees were able to tour PREC facilities and learn more about the current research projects at the center.

UW Research Associate Andrea Pierson explained a wide variety of topics are currently being studied, varying from post emergence options for Roundup ready alfalfa to the impact of micronutrients on sugarbeet production.

The research center is well equipped to meet the needs of many researchers and studies, she said.

“The Powell station has roughly 200 acres under irrigation, and the irrigation methods include drip, sub-drip, pivot and flood irrigation,” explained Pierson.

In-between studies, Pierson stressed that the fields are returned to regular production for a year to prevent treatment carryover to the new study.

“We’re using these production fields to go through and put the field back in neutral, so when we continue research the next year, we won’t have that carry over from the project before,” she said.

Varieties

A variety of studies are currently being conducted in Powell to assess plant variety suitability to the Big Horn basin, varying from field corn to soybeans.

“We have a dry bean trial that is part of the Cooperative Dry Bean Nursery, which is a nationally run nursery, so it’s hosted in many different places around the country,” said Pierson.

The nursery grows up to 36 different varieties of dry beans every given year.

  “We also allow local contractors to enter some of the varieties they’re going to be producing this year,” she continued. “This data will help farmers in the future to go through and select what they want to grow, and it will give them an idea of what the bean will actually do before they plant it in their fields.”

The center also includes a barley field for the Elite Malt Barley Trial, which is done in conjunction with USDA.

“We collect this data. The barley trials are run nationally, and then, all of the data is compiled and released to the public, so we can see what a lot of these varieties are doing in different areas,” noted Pierson.

In the organic sector of agriculture, researchers are looking at the suitability of the goji berry for Wyoming production.

“Goji is a cold, hardy plant, and it’s early maturing, so it may be a good option for our Wyoming organic producers,” commented Pierson.

Irrigation

This year, PREC has installed a new pivot with a variable rate irrigation system, with each tower able to be divided into three different water application variations.

“That will allow us to conduct a bunch of deficit irrigation studies,” said Pierson.

She explained there is a moisture sensor field day at the research center on July 25 to discuss moisture sensor data that is currently being taken.

Another addition to the center is a flux tower, which is used to develop a water curve.

“What it does is, it measures climatic things like the sun rays coming down, what’s being reflected back, wind speed, temperature and moisture coming down to the ground,” explained Pierson. “With that, we can make a calculation on what it takes for producers to go through and irrigate crops.”

She concluded, “It’s going to help us get a good idea of whether we’re putting down too much water or not enough water for the crop to use. We’ll be able to give an accurate estimate of what each crop needs to produce a crop that is viable.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..