Archive for June 9th, 2018

News of the Day — 6/9/18


You are invited to a meeting of the Customer Focus Group of the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, South Dakota. The meeting will be held at the Eastern South Dakota Soil and Water Research Farm on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m., following the annual Field Day.

This meeting is especially critical, and I hope you will be able to attend. The President’s Budget for FY2019 decreases funding for USDA and its in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The FY2019 budget request for ARS is $143 million, or 12.3% below the current FY2018 level. To meet this target, ARS proposes to close 20 laboratories / locations / work sites. The USDA-ARS-North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (NCARL) in Brookings, SD is one of the locations slated for closure if the President’s Budget is enacted.

As you know, the NCARL is part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and is funded through the Federal government. Despite declining budgets, the NCARL remains uniquely suited to conduct unbiased research that addresses many important long-term and emerging issues that South Dakota farmers are facing. We need to continue to work together to protect Federally-funded agricultural research in South Dakota.

At the meeting, we will have a brief update on the ARS budget and what direction to take to assure future funding for NCARL. We will also discuss opportunities to strengthen NCARL’s research program. In recent years, we have supported increased funding for NCARL to expand their work in soil biology and pollinators.

The NCARL is the only ARS location in South Dakota and has been in operation since 1961. Their FY2018 budget appropriated by Congress is $3.0 million plus $300,000 in extramural funds. Current employees include 8 permanent PhD-level scientists (2 vacant), 13 full-time (5 vacant) and 5 part-time employees supporting the work of the scientists, plus 11 seasonal employees.

In addition to an estimated loss of $4.2 million from the local economy, closure of the NCARL would stop critical research to increase crop and pest management options to growers, reduce production costs, and improve conservation. The NCARL has reported and transferred innovative research documenting how no-tillage, plant-incorporated protectants, cover crops, crop rotations, and other management options influence resource use efficiency, pest control, long-term productivity, economic viability, and environmental quality. Their current research program addresses critical aspects of crop production in the region:

  • Better soil health to sustain food production, reduce fertilizer needs, and protect the environment
  • Resilient cropping systems that can perform well under drought and other poor growing conditions
  • Efficient management of weeds and insect pests, especially corn rootworm and soybean aphid that have large economic implications each year in South Dakota
  • Protection and promotion of beneficial insects, including pollinators and natural enemies of pests

I hope that you will attend the June 19th Field Day and the Customer Focus Group meeting to discuss how we can work together to support the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory.


Joan Crooks, General Secretary
E. SD Soil and Water Research Farm, Inc.


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