For the past five years, Dale Schlough has been in charge of most of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
That”s if you go by acreage. As director of agricultural research stations in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Schlough has overseen operations on 12 stations and other assorted parcels totaling about 6,100 acres – about two-thirds of the land used for all UW-Madison programs.
Of course, the value of the statewide network of stations is measured not by acreage, but by the great volume of research findings generated on them. The stations are used by researchers in virtually every discipline, including fundamental biological sciences, social sciences and natural resources, as well as agricultural production. The findings are shared with thousands of Wisconsin residents at dozens of field days and other events held at the stations each year.
No one knows the stations better than Schlough, who retires July 1.
He started in 1969 as an agronomist at the Ashland station and later became a superintendent there. In 1979, he became superintendent of the College”s 2,000-acre flagship station at Arlington as well as the Madison-area stations. In 1984 he also took on the post of associate director of research stations. He was named director in 1994.
During that time he helped develop two new stations – the West Madison station and the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Facility near Verona. He also helped bring the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center”s field station and the UW-Madison campus greenhouses under the Agricultural Research Stations management.
His tenure covered a time of considerable change both in Wisconsin agriculture and in the College”s research programs.
“When I started, almost everything was applied agriculture,” Schlough recalls. The research done on the stations was one step away from the farmers. We still do that kind of research today, but there are a lot of projects we never dreamed we”d see – things like getting pharmaceuticals from milk, or from alfalfa.
“There”s also much greater focus on natural resources, and we also work much more with urban residents and small-acreage farmers.”
Station staff – about 125 full-timers and 40 or so summer employees – know Schlough as a great boss. Researchers have appreciated his professionalism.
“Dale has been an excellent balance of a good manager of resources, a facilitator with faculty and staff to get make sure research is done correctly and a promoter of the station staff and their own professional development,” notes Margaret Dentine, CALS associate dean for research.
Schlough has also taken a keen interest in international agriculture. He spent a month in The Gambia, NW Africa, in 1989, and two years in Bolivia from 1992 to 1993. In both cases he advised local officials on research station management.
Schlough is now looking forward to scaling back from managing many properties to a single one: A lakeside cottage in Oneida Co. to which he and his wife, Pat, will be moving later this year.