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Facility upgrades are crucial

ISU Northern Research and Demonstration Farm begins campaign to raise needed funds

By Kriss Nelson - Farm News editor | Jul 6, 2021



KANAWHA – Iowa State University’s research farms have been providing essential, up-to-date information to producers not only in our state but around the world.

It is important the facilities at the research farms stay up-to-date and modern as well and the need to do so is crucial at the Northern Research and Demonstration Farm in Kanawha.

Doug Adams, a Humboldt-area farmer also serves on the board for the Northern Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm and said they have officially started the campaign to raise funds for a new machine shed and shop area that will also provide meeting rooms, offices for the farm staff, ADA complient restrooms and a kitchenette.

“Our shop if from the 1980s. Machinery, of course has grown. We can’t get the machinery in the shop like we should,” he said. “We are looking to update the shop, make meeting room space as well.”

Matt Schnabel, Northern Research and Demonstration Farm superintendent said a new facility is needed just in order for them to be able to do the work they need to.

“Our facilities right now are small and dated,” he said. “To be able to do our jobs, and do our jobs well, we really need the space to work on equipment, host people, meetings and have visitors here year around.”

The Northern Research and Demonstration Farm, according to Iowa State University, was formed in 1930 and is the oldest farm in the history of the outlying research farms that partner with and support research conducted by ISU.

“With this being the oldest research farm – the founding one, we have some room for improvement,” said Adams. “Not just here on the farmstead itself, we would like to buy some land in the future to expand the farm. We are the oldest and smallest farm. We have people wanting to do research here than we have room for.”

The 173-acre farm is owned by the North Central Iowa Research Association that is currently comprised of 68 members and managed by a 19-member board of directors.

The farm research projects are conducted by the work of Schnabel, an ag specialist and part-time summer help in addition to numerous ISU faculty, staff and extension specialists that lead research projects and conduct extension and outreach events at the farm annually.

Originally, the farm conducted sugar beet research and it also produced and sold beet seed.

Crop nutrient studies at the farm have led to a publication that states the basis for most crop nutrient recommendations in Iowa. Additional studies include nutrient application of manure, lime and sulfur.

The farm was also integral for the introduction to soybeans into Iowa as well as weed control studies and herbicide control guides, tiling and drainage studies.

Current projects include long term tillage trials, Cardinal fungicide trials, date of planting studies for crops, nitrogen use studies, cover crop studies, Soybean Cyst Nematode studies and white mold research.

All of this cannot be possible without the proper facilities.

“We need the ability to maintain our equipment which helps to get research done,” said Schnabel. “We build some of our own equipment. Our plots and different field work require customizing and being able to get that done ahead of times is essential, especially with short windows of weather to perform the research activities is a big one.”

Adams said research being done at the Northern Research and Demonstration Farm is valuable information for farmers.

“As farmers, we may Google to find out what rate of fertilizer to put on. If you are looking at Iowa State University recommendations, a lot of that work was done here at the Northern Iowa Research Farm,” said Adams. “For me, as a farmer in northcentral Iowa, I look to the research farm as a source for my information as it is the data relevant to my farm.”

Currently, funds are being sought for a total sponsorship goal of $500,000. There are several ways contributions can be made. They can be given by gifts of grain at a participating cooperative; given through the ISU Foundation or sent directly to the North Central Iowa Research Farm association.

“I hope we can get this facility built and carry on the great tradition of research and extension here,” said Schnabel. “It is things we would like to improve that will make it so we are able to fulfill our job and mission here to provide facilities for meetings and research.”

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