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A Visit to the West Madison Agricultural Research Station

Thomas H. Wright
Station Superintendent
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
West Madison Agricultural Research Station
(608) 262- 2257

Tom Wright discusses the role the West Madison ARS plays in UW-Madison research and the community.

Total Time: 2:48
0:19- The work and mission of the station
0:41- The size of the West Madison ARS
1:00- Underground irrigation
1:24- The newest project at the station
1:53- The future of the station
2:30- Lead Out



Sevie Kenyon: Tom, can you give us a little idea of what kind of work goes on here at the West Madison Station?

Tom Wright: Predominantly, most of the work here is field breeding work. We have corn breeders, sweet corn breeders, carrot and onion breeders, oat breeders, carrot breeders. So we cover the gamut of breeding work here I guess, and that’s for the predominant mission of the station.

Sevie Kenyon: And can you maybe paint us a little picture of the station?

Tom Wright: Well currently we’re utilizing about 575 acres officially at the station. We have another additional 60 acres that we’re doing some production on. It’s located on the west side of Madison, again convenient to campus for people. We do have a couple of things that most stations do not have, and that’s access to irrigation. We’ve got a fairly big system of underground pipes and equipment to irrigate crops so in the last few years we’ve had to make use of that quite a bit during the summer. Last year especially being one. This year was not so bad. We had timely rains which is, especially with the breeding people and others, that’s that time that they need the rain. So they work[ed] out pretty good this year for them.

Sevie Kenyon: What’s the newest project or plant being added here to the station?

Tom Wright: Well, we’ve started into doing some work with grapes and apples. We haven’t started the apples yet but we have started a fairly large vineyard for study of wine grapes. This was being taken up by some professors in horticulture, and plant pathology, so hopefully the setup of the vineyard will help them to do a lot of work and other people in horticulture, other professors, and researchers, be able to do some work there as well. It will be multiple use.

Sevie Kenyon: And Tom, what do you suppose the future of the station is?

Tom Wright: Well I’ve always said, and I’ve been here for quite a few years; the station has a very important role for the college. It’s very valuable to a lot of researchers, to a lot of the grad students, and would be hard to replace. Years ago we always sort of, in the back of our minds, thought if we had to move again. And we have several locations that we’ve been at. This is the last one that we’ve been at for quite awhile, but we said we would always have to maybe move to Arlington. And land available up there is not as easy as one thinks either, so that has forced us to maintain this. I’ve always reckoned this to something like the Arboretum, in that it’s a very valuable resource for not only the researchers, but the community as well. So I’ve sort of hoped that things would stick around.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Tom Wright, Superintendent, West Madison Agricultural Research Station, University of Wisconsin, and the College of Agricultural and Life Science, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.