As a center designed for the dissemination of knowledge, the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) is home to several inter-disciplinary project and research areas. We are located in Morris, Minn., on the edge of the prairie.
Cropland and Plot Research Areas
The WCROC has 640 acres of tillable land; 300 acres are organic (corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa) and the balance is conventional production (corn and soybeans). We have approximately 90 acres we can use for conventional plots. We utilize a small percentage of organic land for research plots, such as for organic small fruit production. Currently, there are 16 projects occurring in WCROC field plots. University of Minnesota faculty and staff can submit research requests via the research plot request form.
Our primary trial crops are corn, small grains and soybeans. A woodchip Bioreactor is located at the discharge point of a 14-acre field measuring the effectiveness of nitrate reduction. Learn more about Agronomy & Soil Science research at the WCROC.
Dairy Research Facilities
For over 100 years, the WCROC has provided the dairy industry with advancements in the areas of livestock health, nutrition, crossbreeding and reproduction, contributing to more efficient food production in the United States. In 2008, a portion of the 250 cow dairy herd (and supporting land) was transitioned to an organic production system, which has provided an opportunity to offer education and outreach and set new directions in research and extension. The WCROC manages a grazing-based herd, and is the only certified organic dairy at a land grant institution in the Midwest. Additionally, the WCROC provides the only side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional systems on the same farm site in the United States, providing a crucial source of outreach for conventional and organic dairy producers.
The dairy operation at the WCROC milks between 200 and 280 cows twice daily and is representative of a mid-size Minnesota dairy farm. We have a total of 110 cattle in our organic herd, and 130 cattle in our conventional herd. Research is conducted in livestock barns and on grazing pastures. At the WCROC, we have 356 certified organic pasture acres. Learn more about dairy research at the WCROC.
DC Fast Charging Station
As more and more electric cars move about the country, the need for charging stations - particularly fast charging stations - continues to grow. In 2018, we installed a DC Fast Charging Station where an electric car can charge 6.5 times faster than at a level 2 charger. The WCROC is currently the only Fast Charging Station in west central Minnesota. Reserve your spot at the charger through PlugShare or Greenlots.
Horticulture Display Garden
Spanning nearly six acres, the Horticulture Display Garden is used for conducting trials on hundreds of annual flowers, perennials, woody plants and small fruits. Plant materials are available for public viewing throughout several themed gardens, gardens beds, containers and hanging baskets. The Children's Garden is one the most visited spots in our garden; it offers a fun and educational environment for children and families. The Pomme de Terre Overlook is nestled on 14 acres and provides visitors with a view of the prairie landscape. Learn more about horticulture research at the WCROC, or about the Horticulture Display Garden.
LEED Certified WCROC Administration Building
In addition to office and educational spaces, the WCROC administration building serves as a demonstration site for renewable energy and green building technologies. The building features required elements for LEED Silver Certification, which was obtained in 2009.
Renewable Energy Research Areas
The Renewable Energy Research and Demonstration Center (RERDC) was commissioned by the University of Minnesota in 2004, with the dual purpose of researching production of renewable energy and educating the public about alternatives to fossil fuels. We house the first large-scale, research-focused wind turbine built for a U.S. university. The WCROC also has multiple types of solar energy panels. Learn more about Renewable Energy research at the WCROC.
Swine Research Facilities
Our facilities include a nursery, barns and housing systems for sows, hogs and pigs. Hoop barns house finishing pigs in large groups on beds of straw. Farrowing/lactating sows are housed in a small group with individual, straw-bedded, farrowing pens. We compare conventional and alternative forms of animal management, with the goal of evaluating and improving animal welfare. Learn more about Swine research at the WCROC.
Location, Climate and Soils
Acreage, Coordinates, Elevation: The WCROC is located on 1,060 acres, and at a latitude of 45 35' N, longitude of 95 52' W, and at an elevation of 1,141 feet above sea level.
Climate Averages: The mean annual temperature (from 1886-2013) is 42.1 degrees F. The mean annual precipitation is 24.22 inches.
Soils and Slopes: The Pomme de Terre River divides our land into eastern and western areas. In the eastern area, the predominant soils are moderate to moderately well drained Doland/McIntosh/Berns silt loam soils. In the western areas, moderate to poorly drained Hamerly/Aastad/Vallers/Nutley silty clay loams make up the soil.