Troy Fishler has been named superintendent of Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS), the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s 412-acre research farm located in Wisconsin’s Central Sands region.
Fishler, who started as superintendent on July 1, has been the manager of the Potato and Vegetable Storage Research Facility (SRF) at HARS since 2014. He continues in that role while taking on management of the entire station, where research focuses on developing and evaluating ways to sustainably grow vegetables in the region’s sandy, fast-draining soils and high-water table, including more effective approaches to manage nutrients, pests and water.
“I am excited to lead the great team we have in place,” says Fishler. “Our primary focus will be continuing to deliver the high-quality level of service that all our faculty, staff and potato industry collaborator friends have become accustomed to receiving over the years.”
Before coming to Hancock ARS, Fishler spent almost a decade working for Frito Lay’s potato breeding program in Rhinelander, managing the variety qualification process and supporting their storage research facility, also located in Central Wisconsin. He possesses both biochemistry laboratory experience and agronomy field experience. Among his internships was a summer focused on plant genetics at Agracetus, whose former facility now houses the UW–Madison’s Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center in Middleton.
“We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Troy’s talents and skillset as the next superintendent at Hancock,” says Michael Peters, director of the UW–Madison’s Agricultural Research Station network. “His mix of experience in laboratory, commercial potato production and storage, and research settings makes him the ideal candidate to lead the station. We look forward to the great things he will accomplish working with the elite team of faculty researchers we have in the college.”
Established in 1916, Hancock Agricultural Research Station is located about 30 miles south of Stevens Point and part of the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ 11-farm Agricultural Research Station network. Hancock is home to field trials for a wide variety of crops, including potatoes, snap beans, sweet corn, beets, carrots, onions and other specialty crops, as well as field corn and soybeans.
The 9000-square-foot storage research facility, built in 2006 through a gift from Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, is used by researchers to study ways to curb losses and improve the quality of stored potatoes. Laboratory tests and various potato quality assessments — including sugar concentration, chip color, pressure bruise scoring, storage rot evaluation and more — are available to growers, industry partners and insurance companies on a fee-for-service basis. Commercial companies use these services to evaluate French fry and potato chip processing varieties, and growers use various tests to guide business decisions for their operations.
The station also features a five-acre display garden, the A.R. Albert and Villetta Hawley-Albert Horticultural Garden, carrying the name of the station’s first superintendent.
Fishler is the 10th person to supervise the station, succeeding Felix Navarro, who moved to private industry earlier this year.