News

July 19, 2019

“Everybody is different, and every farm has its own characteristics when it comes to energy use,” reports Brad Heins, WCROC dairy scientist to Dairy Herd Management. The WCROC has 200 cows that graze whenever the grass is growing on the western Minnesota prairie. As such, only 7% of total energy use is needed for barn ventilation in the non-grazing months. The station’s major energy use comes in heating the milking parlor (31%), heating water for cleaning (22%) and cooling milk (11%).

June 26, 2019

Water is considered by a majority of swine nutritionists to be the most important of all nutrients required by pigs.  At birth, water makes up about 82% of the pig’s body weight and steadily declines to about 50% for a pig at market weight. While water is a vital component of any livestock diet, the question remains; does the quality of drinking water influence health and performance of pigs? We are set to address this question by looking at the impact of water quality on animal performance, gut health, and livability of nursery pigs.

June 21, 2019

Over the years, the swine industry has seen a steady increase in litter size at birth. Often, an undesirable consequence of such large litter sizes in an increase in variability of piglet birth weight and increased incidence of low birth weight pigs. This led us to the question: can we manipulate the sow's diet during gestation to improve nutrition of the small piglets in uterus? 

June 19, 2019

A John Deere 6400 tractor rumbled through a U of MN WCROC research field earlier this month pulling a chisel plow and making some history. Nearly everything about this tractor is a common sight here in west-central Minnesota. But this particular farm country workhorse is one of a kind: It has a white tank mounted on the front labeled "anhydrous ammonia," and extra pipes and control boxes attached to its engine.

May 23, 2019

Can we achieve climate resiliency in Midwest cropping systems? Does climate resiliency impact the bottom line? Dr. Jerry Hatfield, Director of the USDA ARS Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA and Nobel Laureate will address these questions during the Midwest Farm Energy Conference.

May 3, 2019

Graduate students Kirsten Sharpe and Brigit Lozinski, both pursing their Masters in Animal Science from the U of MN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, took 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the poster competition at the Waste to Worth Conference held in April 2019. Kirsten and Brigit conduct their research projects at the WCROC and are advised by WCROC faculty. 

April 15, 2019

As a perennial crop, Kernza can grow 2-3 years without any sort of tillage. That makes Kernza a potential cover crop that will hold valuable soil in place all winter long. “We’ve been looking at Kernza from a ‘dual-use’ type system, where we can graze it, get some forage off the land for livestock, and also harvest it for grain, and maybe get some straw off the land,” reports WCROC Dairy Scienstist Braid Heins to Farm & Ranch Guide.

April 2, 2019

Technology can often improve animal welfare on farms, reports WCROC dairy scientist Brad Heins to Forbes.

March 25, 2019

For over the last 133 years, somebody has checked the Morris weather station on more than 48,000 days, making the WCROC weather records one of the most complete weather records in North America. 

March 13, 2019

Farmers continually are adjusting their farming systems to adapt to changing market forces and societal pressures to improve the sustainability of food production. One such adjustment is the use of cover crops during winter. Winter camelina may be able to provide both short- and long-term benefits to farmers when used in diets for growing-finishing pigs.  

Fertilizer from the Wind

2014 LiveBIG: Wind Fertilizer Feature (Minnesota)

 
The WCROC is home to the only production plant of its kind in the world: producing fertilizer from the wind. Mike Reese, director of renewable energy, and his team have developed a method to combine hydrogen and nitrogen to create ammonia that can be used as fertilizer. Not only does this interdisciplinary approach help to solve important challenges facing the agricultural industry, but also serves to reduce the carbon footprint. The Big Ten Network showcased Fertilizer from the Wind on LiveBIG in January 2014.

WCROC named Outstanding Conservationist for 2011

The West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris was named Outstanding Conservationist for 2011 by the Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation District. This recognition was based on the ROC's research and educational programs in horticulture, water quality, renewable energy, dairy, swine, and crop production.