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A visit to the Lancaster ARS – Audio

Arin E. Crooks
Research Program Manager-Superintendent
Lancaster Agricultural Research Station
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 723-2580
Arin Crooks talks about the vast research taking place at the Lancaster ARS, and why the station is unique to the Midwest.

Total Time- 3:13
0:18- What goes on at the station
0:36- Beef research at the station
0:46- Learning from beef cattle trials
1:10- Agronomic research
1:33- Rotational cropping definition
2:02- Differences in the rotational study
2:20- Size of the station
2:50- How is the station unique?
3:02-Lead Out


Sevie Kenyon: Arin, can you give us a quick overview of what the station does?

Arin Crooks: Sure, we do agronomic and beef cattle research for the University of Wisconsin and we’re located in the southwest corner of the state in the driftless region; so all of our research pertains to carefully managing the soils and hilly terrain in southwest Wisconsin.

Sevie Kenyon: And maybe you could give us an example of the kind of beef research that goes on here.

Arin Crooks: Right now, one of our projects that we do is with rotational grazing of pastures and beef cattle, and feeding them different supplements to see how they can improve their gain while grazing on the pasture.

Sevie Kenyon: And can you tell us what you’ve learned from those trials?

Arin Crooks: This particular trial looks at the different mineral contents within the supplements, and we found that “supplementing” the cattle does increase their average daily gain, so they’re able to grow faster. And as of yet, we haven’t been able to determine which mineral combinations are best suited for the highest gains while the cattle are grazing the pastures.

Sevie Kenyon: And you have agronomic research here as well. Could you describe that for us?

Arin Crooks: We do a variety of different research projects in the agronomy side. We’re working with corn, soybeans, alfalfa, small grains, and a variety of other experimental type crops, especially in the forage areas. One of our most noteworthy projects that we’ve worked on with the long time, is a crop rotation study that’s been going on for over 40 years and it’s one of the oldest ones in the United States, and that project looks at the benefits of rotating different crops and how it helps in fertility and in crop production.

Sevie Kenyon: And maybe you could give us a recap of what rotational cropping is?

Arin Crooks: Sure, instead of necessarily growing corn, after corn, after corn, or all alfalfa, or a single crop, it’s growing a series of crops in rotations. So alternating between corn and soybeans, or alfalfa for two or three years and then corn or soybeans, and back to alfalfa. The different combinations helps not only the soil, but it also helps break up patterns of insects and other pests and diseases to allow the crops to grow better, when they’re not growing continuously year after year.

Sevie Kenyon: Arin can you describe perhaps some of the things, the differences you’ve seen in the rotational study?

Arin Crooks: Some of the corn we’ve found, that’s a very highly and valuable crop that’s grown in Wisconsin, when it follows alfalfa or even soybeans, we’ve found through the years that you’re able to get a higher yield with actually less additional fertilizer.

Sevie Kenyon: And Arin, maybe I can get you to paint a little picture of the station.

Arin Crooks: The station is 530 acres total. Of that we have about 220 acres of crop ground that we work. And as I said we grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oats, winter wheat, and other small grains, as well as some additional grasses and other alternative forages on an experimental basis. And the cattle herd we have is 120 Angus-based beef cows, Angus breed beef cows that calve in April, May, and June, and in addition to the beef cows we also have an additional 50-60 growing animals that we use for rotational grazing projects and other activities. Lancaster Station is a little bit unique that it’s the only research station for any university that’s located in the driftless region. So actually we have interest from farmers and people in the whole driftless region, which is included along the Mississippi River, and Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Arin Crooks, Superintendent, Lancaster Agricultural Research Station, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.