Local residents turned out in droves this year for the annual Field Day at the Western Montana Agricultural Research Center (WARC) in Corvallis last week. The research center is located on 29 acres along Quast Lane east of Corvallis. It is one of seven agricultural research centers located around the state as part of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) which is headquartered in Bozeman at Montana State University. Dr. Sreekala Bajwa, Vice President, Dean and Director of College of Agriculture & the Montana Agriculture Experiment Station, gave an introductory address to the gathering. Also on hand were Associate Director of MAES, Dr. Mary Burrows, and head of the Department of Research Centers, Dr. Darrin Boss.
The network of research centers, using scientists at MSU central campus in Bozeman as well as privately employed scientists, conducts basic and applied research into problems that address Montana’s agricultural and natural resource economies. The research spans the breadth and depth of animal health, animal science, agronomy, horticulture, range sciences, agricultural economics, plant sciences, and natural resource and pest management.
The Western Agricultural Research Center in Corvallis is the only one of the seven, according to Dr. Sreekala, that is intensively focused on horticultural research and is the recent beneficiary of $1.2 million in federal funding for a new laboratory building dedicated to horticultural research. The package came with authority to raise an additional $300,000.
Each research station is actively involved in research programs of topical relevance in their diverse landscapes around the state and works closely with local growers in identifying pertinent research problems with an emphasis on application.
Field Day visitors got a chance to tour the grounds and hear from various experts about the current trials underway involving research into apples and other tree fruit, grapes and vineyard research, research into organic grains and berries, as well as use of integrated livestock management techniques. Scientists are looking at the viability of various specialty crops, different forms of cultivation including multi-species crop management and the proper application and effectiveness of various herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers including integrated pest management and soil fertility research.
Zach Miller, Superintendent of the WARC, emphasized that the center is devoted to helping local growers plant the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way to achieve the best results.
“Our focus is on high value production on small acreage,” said Miller. He said it was important to see that the best scientific research is made available to local growers in a way that can be useful to them.
This year’s Field Day was sponsored by Northwest Farm Credit Services, Valley Irrigation and Lakeland Feed. Other participating businesses included O’Hara Commons, Western Cider, Montana Cider Works, Aspen Grove Farms, House of Ferments, Tucker Family Farm, Missoula Community Food & Agriculture Coalition, and Chapter One Bookstore.
Anyone wishing to know more about the research center can contact Zach Miller at 961-3025 or email email@example.com.