The Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board has awarded the LSU AgCenter $1,873,000 for 2015 to continue conducting research and extension programs that benefit the industry.
“This is the largest award they have given us,” said Rogers Leonard, associate vice chancellor and program leader for plant and soil sciences. “We are most appreciative of this show of support from our farmers. Our goal is to improve their bottom line through our research and educational programs. Our scientists could not be successful without this funding.”
The board’s source of funding are the national and state checkoff programs for soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and corn, in which farmers give a percentage of the proceeds from crop sales.
“As federal and state funds become more limited, producer-generated funds are essential for the development of solutions to Louisiana problems,” said Raymond Schexnayder Jr., of Ventress, chairman of the 13-member board.
The projects funded address various issues that adversely affect crop production. These include management of weeds, insect pests and diseases – referred to as plant protection.
Another challenge in growing these crops is the high cost of fertilizer. Researchers are trying to determine how to optimize crop yields with as little fertilizer as possible, which saves money and the environment.
As more farmers turn to irrigation to boost their yields, there is also the need to study irrigation management so no water is wasted.
“Water is becoming an increasingly important issue as we all try to conserve this resource and use it wisely,” Leonard said.
The most important decision farmers make is at the beginning of the season when they choose the crop varieties to plant. AgCenter researchers and educators test varieties under various conditions and make recommendations based on individual farming situations.
AgCenter extension agents manage demonstration fields on farms across the state to show the benefits of following the latest recommendations based on the results from research projects.
Studies are conducted in departments on campus in the LSU College of Agriculture and at research stations including the Central Research Station in Baton Rouge, Northeast Research Station in St. Joseph, the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria, the Red River Research Station in Bossier City, and the Rice Research Station in Crowley.
A new project funded this year will expedite development of potential technologies to reduce the numbers of feral hogs in Louisiana. These destructive animals are causing major damage to agricultural lands, Leonard said.