The Hancock Agricultural Research Station 'Integrating Research and Development for WI Agricultural Systems'
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The Hancock Agricultural Research Station 'Integrating Research and Development for WI Agricultural Systems'



Summary of current research done at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station by a number of research groups. Faculty programs, output and potential impacts are highlighted

Summary of current research done at the Hancock Agricultural Research Station by a number of research groups. Faculty programs, output and potential impacts are highlighted



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  • A visit to University of Wisconsin-Madison Hancock Ag Research Station. Thanks to Sevie Kanyon from UW-CALS Communication for the interview and photos and to Lorre Kolb student Mackenzie Chaffee for producing the video …
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The Hancock Agricultural Research Station 'Integrating Research and Development for WI Agricultural Systems' The Hancock Agricultural Research Station 'Integrating Research and Development for WI Agricultural Systems' Document Transcript

  • The Hancock Agricultural Research Station: "Integrating Research and Development for WI Agricultural Systems" By Félix Navarro and Mary Lemere July, 2013 The Hancock Agricultural Research Station (HARS) is located in Waushara County in the part of Wisconsin known as the “Central Sands”. Research at HARS began in 1916 by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences on land belonging to the Hancock Development Company. In those early years, the intent of the research was to aid general livestock farmers in their attempt to make a living on the droughty sands in Central WI. Six years later, the UW- Board of Regents purchased 95 acres from this private company, and by 1934 they had acquired two more adjacent parcels for a total of 223 acres. Research efforts for the next twenty years were directed towards dairy feeding, pasture utilization, soil fertility management, and studies with coniferous and deciduous shelterbelt plantings for wind erosion control. Irrigation possibilities came to the forefront in the late 1940s with aluminum pipe becoming available and the discovery of an accessible underground water supply. Irrigation brought renewed hope to the people of the area and redirected the college's research efforts. Studies began to reveal two-, three-, and sometimes four-fold increases in crop productivity when irrigation was used. Seventy acres were added to the station in 1962 to aid in irrigation research, provide low fertility land, and help offset acreage lost by Hwy 51 relocation and 120 acres were added in 1971 to better serve the research and outreach functions of HARS. Hancock Agricultural Research Station headquarters This station is one of twelve experimental stations administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (UW-CALS). The station’s sandy soils and climate are very suitable to conduct research applicable to the agriculture in central Wisconsin and other similar agro ecological regions. Research at the Hancock station focuses on irrigated vegetable and field crops with an emphasis on potatoes, snap beans, cucumbers, field corn, sweet corn and carrots. One of the core missions of HARS is to support the research and outreach activities of professors, academic staff and students from different academic departments from UW-CALS. The University of Wisconsin, with the support of stakeholders, has developed field and laboratory infrastructure necessary to conduct research at HARS. Of the 412 acres of land, presently more than 300 are tillable. The station has customized machinery, post-harvest handling and grading sheds, machine and repair shops, office space, and public events facilities. 1
  • A highlight of the station that attracts a large number of visitors of the general public is the ‘A.R. Albert & Villetta Hawley-Albert Horticultural Garden’. This horticultural garden located at the east side of the fields, close to US Interstate 39 is a visible face and main image that thousands of travelers have of the Hancock station. Presently the garden is maintained with active support and collaboration with master gardener groups from the region. The most recent and prominent addition to the station is the Hancock Storage Research Facility (SRF). The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility was conceived, designed and built by the potato and vegetable growers of Wisconsin. The potato growers of Wisconsin raised $3.2 million to build the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Storage Research Facility in 2006. The facility contains nine bulk storage bins and nine lockers for pallet research. Each bulk bin holds 2,000 cwt (200,000 pounds) of bulk-piled potatoes mimicking commercial storage conditions. Each locker and bin has a separate air handling and humidity unit to prevent cross-contamination between research projects. University of Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Storage Research Facility 2
  • The Mission The Hancock Agricultural Research Station supports research projects, student training and outreach activities of UW-CALS researchers, notably from the Departments of Horticulture, Plant Pathology, Entomology, Soil Science, Agronomy and Forest and Wildlife Ecology. UW graduates and researchers like ourselves we have firsthand knowledge of HARS’ effective role as a training facility for UW-Madison undergraduate, graduate students, and summer interns. HARS is one of the greatest field laboratories in the State of Wisconsin where technology is tested before it impacts growers’ fields, industry and the environment. This facility is expected to play a central role integrating research and development for WI agricultural systems and beyond. A measure of Success Success at the Hancock Ag Research Station can be defined and measured through the quantity and quality of the research conducted here. A quick survey of recent research contributions to scientific journals and reports may be a good indicator of the success of research conducted at this station. Besides contributing to the scientific literature, researchers communicate project results in activities conducted at the station in events such as separate annual field days on potato, processing crops and ornamental plants. Similarly research activities are communicated in meetings with stakeholders, growers and industry committees, other organizations and individual growers. A large number of undergraduate and graduate students from different departments in CALS receive most of their hands on experience at HARS. Faculty, staff and students doing research at HARS are part of the body of scientists that keeps J.C. Walker’s spirit alive ‘with one foot in the furrow’. Research University of Wisconsin researchers have conducted at HARS a number of relevant projects that have contributed significantly to agriculture in WI. These projects include improved soil and crop management practices, post-harvest and storage management, better disease and pest monitoring and control as well as new variety options in several crops. Present research projects are pursued to provide appropriate management tools to growers and industry as well as to reduce impact of agriculture on the environment. A sample of current projects carried out at the Hancock Ag Research Station is given below. Recent Research Projects Conducted at the Hancock Ag Research Station and Contributed to Scientific Reports Soil, Water and Nutrient Management Nutrient Management Studies at HARS: A team of researchers from the UW-Soil Science Department including Matt Ruark, Carrie Laboski and Keith Kelling, and A.J. Bussan and Jiwan Palta (Horticulture) have conducted research on: 3
  •         Slow-release nitrogen, urease inhibitor, and nitrification inhibitor fertilizer use in potato production systems Nitrogen leaching losses in potato production systems on sandy soils Nitrogen use efficiency of improved sweet corn hybrids Interaction between sweet corn hybrids and potato varieties to planting density, and nitrogen fertilizer application rate Predicting nitrogen release and the utility of petiole testing on potato Response of potato and snap beans variety to nitrogen and phosphorus Potato tuber quality enhancement in response to Calcium application Preservation and maintenance of low soil fertility area for future research In addition to managing their research projects Matt Ruark and AJ Bussan provide guidance on nitrogen management to HARS. Bill Bland and Birl Lowery from the Soils Science Department and AJ Bussan (Horticulture) have addressed research needs on:  Water dynamics in drip and overhead sprinkler irrigated potato hills and development of dry zones.  Water relations in the irrigated sand plain of Wisconsin  Effect of deficit irrigation on potato, snap beans and sweet corn  Variable rates of irrigation in potato, sweet corn and snap beans  Role of agricultural irrigation in ground water level fluctuations in central Wisconsin  Surfactant impact on nitrogen utilization and leaching in potatoes In regards to irrigation management, HARS is implementing the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program (WISP 2012) and soil moisture sensors as a checkbook method to monitoring root zone water content in potato and other crops. This program was developed by John Panuska and Rick Wayne from the Biological Systems Engineering and John Norman from the Soil Science Department. They incorporated features from existing irrigation schedulers suggested by former Hancock ARS Superintendent David Curwen and L.R. Massey in 1994. Research on rates of irrigation with drip irrigation Linear irrigation system 4
  • Potato and Vegetable Agronomic Management and Extension AJ Bussan’s research objectives include:  Precision management of potato and vegetables  Influence of management and climate on growth and development of potato and vegetables.  Improvement of sustainability and economic value of vegetable production systems.  Refine production practices including seeding rate.  Bulking rate and increasing earliness in vegetable production  Potato yield and quality response to subsoil tillage and compaction.  Optimizing management of new potato varieties.  Effect of vine-kill application on long term storage of potatoes. Relevant information on the management of specific potato varieties is produced every year. In addition to facilitating research conducted at HARS, the station facilitates research conducted in muck soils of Endeavor WI. Jed Colquhoun is responsible for weed science research activities in vegetable crops at HARS. His program focuses on the development of integrated strategies for weed management that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of crop production. Specific interests include crop tolerance or suppression of weed interference, weed resistance management, and parasitic weed ecology and management. Dan Heider conducts research on herbicide efficacy. Among recent and ongoing research activities are:  Study of herbicide drift on potatoes  Potato herbicide efficacy evaluation  Potato herbicide evaluation for extended weed control  Sweet potato herbicide efficacy evaluation  IR-4 Program: Efficacy and phytotoxicity of new herbicides.  Herbicides evaluations for Hairy Nightshade control  Vines kill evaluations  Herbicide carryover Efficacy and phytotoxicity of herbicide research plots Potato and Vegetable Pest and Diseases Management Researchers, including Amanda Gevens (UW-Plant Pathology), Russ Groves (Entomology), Ann McGuidwin and Amy Charkowski (Plant Pathology) lead projects on pest and disease management. Their objectives are to make accurate prediction of pest and disease occurrence and develop effective and efficient control methods. 5
  • Amanda Gevens projects at HARS include:  Evaluation of foliar fungicide programs on potatoes  Disease forecasting and management (carrots and cucumber)  Use of vine removal and cover crops as biofumigants to manage Verticillium wilt on potato  Fungicide efficacy to control potato pink rot  Evaluation of pink rot on potato  Evaluation of carrot foliar diseases  Impact of dairy manure on potato production Amanda Gevens inoculating potatoes with pathogens Stephen Jordan evaluating potatoes Russ Groves’ projects at HARS include  New insecticide technology for Colorado potato beetle and potato leafhopper management  Colorado potato beetle overwintering emergence patterns and neonicotinoids resistance  Carrot insect pest management with foliar and systemic insecticides  PVY strains evaluation on potato varieties and epidemiology with Amy Charkowski Russ Groves evaluating his PVY strains and Colorado Potato Beetle experiments at HARS 6
  • Ann MacGuidwin is the only plant nematologist at the UW-Plant Pathology Department. Two of her primary research interests are the role of nematodes in the early dying disease of potato and the overwinter survival strategies of nematodes. She has demonstrated in field trials that the nematode Pratylenchus penetrans and Verticillium dahliae interact synergistically to cause potato early dying and is now studying mechanisms responsible for the interaction. The emphasis of Ann’s program on the overwinter survival of nematodes is to understand the ecological and physiological parameters which enable nematodes in Wisconsin to survive freezing. The goal of this collaborative work is to develop sustainable management strategies for nematode pests of potato, soybean, corn, and other crops important to the north central region of the U.S MacGuidwins’ projects at HARS include:  Nematode response to fumigation alternatives in corn, soybeans and potato  Interaction of Verticillim dahliae and Pratylenchus penetrans with greenmanure and solarization influence on potato yield  Nematode suppression in soybean Amy Charkowski is responsible for the Wisconsin Certified Seed potato agency. In addition she conducts research in potato virus Y and soft rot. Her recent work focuses on:  Long-term storability of Potato Virus Y (PVY)infected tubers (with Russ Groves)  PVY management in drip and overhead irrigated potato  PVY management-National Minituber Inoculation Trial  Validation of sources of resistance to PVY of different origin. In collaboration with the potato breeding program she is using marker assisted selection for the introgression of PVY resistance to breeding clones Amy Charkowski research group 7
  • Environmental Impact of Agriculture  Environmental fate of neocotinoids: a potato case study (Groves).  Slow release fertilizer effect on groundwater nitrogen concentration in sandy soils under potato production (Ruark/Lowery). Potato Germplasm Enhancement Shelley Jansky is responsible for the enhancement of potato germplasm, including the use of genes in wild or non-cultivated potato species and introgression of traits to Solanum tuberosum. One of her strategies is the study of reproductive biology focusing on crossing barriers and mechanisms to overcome these barriers. One of her strategy is ploidy manipulation using haploids and 2n gametes. Projects developed at HARS include:  Inheritance of resistance to Verticillium dahliae in diploid interspecific potato hybrids.  Identification and introgression of PVY resistance from Solanum chacoense and development of molecular marker for this resistance  Identification and introgression of common scab resistance and chip quality from Solanum chacoense and development of molecular marker for this resistance  Release of seven clones in 2011 (M1-M5) for improving chip quality, M7 using S. infundibuliforme for improving russet processing, and M8 using S. berthaultii as a new source of genetic diversity in red potatoes. US breeding programs are actively using these clones.  Important collaborative work searching for resistance to early blight, late blight and PVY in collaboration with Dennis Halterman.  Jansky also evaluate clones from different US breeding programs in a National Verticillium Wilt experiment at HARS. Shelley Jansky, Paul Bethke and Dennis Halterman research groups 8
  • Potato Breeding and Variety Evaluation The goal of the UW Potato Breeding Program in the last few years has been to develop genetically superior varieties that satisfy or exceed the standard for yield and grade in the fresh and processing markets. The main objectives of the UW-Potato Breeding Program are as follow:  Development of processing and dual purpose processing and fresh market russet varieties  Development of fresh market russet varieties  Development of long storage chippers as potential ‘Snowden’ replacements  Development of early chippers as potential ‘Atlantic’ replacements  Development of fresh market red skin and specialty varieties HARS has been of critical importance to the potato breeding program since it provides the opportunity making selections in a production region where developed varieties are expected to perform well. Projects carried out at HARS include:  Early years clonal selection in Year 3 for fresh market and processing traits  Evaluation of advanced clones in (Year 4-5)  Evaluation of elite clones (SpudPro trial)  National Chip and French Fry Processing Trial  North Central Regional Trial  Evaluation of breeding clones in permanent disease trials for common scab and Verticillium wilt evaluation  Use of marker assisted selection for tuber internal and external defects  Use of marker assisted selection for PVY resistance (in collaboration with Amy Charkowski) Left- Jiwan Palta explaining research conducted by the potato breeding program during a field day Right- Growers and industry evaluating potato varieties in the SpudPro trial conducted by Bryan Bowen and Mary Lemere 9
  • A number of varieties have been released and protected by PVP in the last 10 years as a result of selection at HARS, the Rhinelander Ag Research Station and data from collaborators. These include: MegaChip, Freedom Russet, White Pearl and Villetta Rose. Some of these recent releases, particularly MegaChip have been readily adopted. Figure below shows the impact of newly released clones in the last eight years, measured as certified acres grown. 800 Harvested Acres for Certification 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Certified seed acreage (2005-12) of new Wisconsin clones Another wave of varieties has been named and is in the process of being protected and released; these include Tundra, Nicolet, Accumulator and Lelah. Data generated at HARS has been essential for selection and characterization of these varieties. The breeding program has a number of elite clones with high potential as varieties. These have been promoted by the SpudPro committee for virus removal and clean seed production for additional research including on-farm testing. These include: W5955-1 and W6609-3 (chippers with common scab tolerant), W5015-12 and W5015-5 (chippers with some tolerance to late blight), reds: W6002-1R, W8405-1R and W8893-1R, W6703-1Y (yellow), processing russets: W6234-4rus and W8152-1rus (low acrylamide) and fresh market russets: W9133-1, W8516-1rus. 10
  • Potato Storage Management and Evaluation of Cold Induced Sweetening on New Potato Varieties (Paul Bethke, AJ Bussan, Mary LeMere, Amanda Gevens, Russ Groves) Bethke: Focus is on the post-harvest physiology of potato tubers. Areas of emphasis include tuber water relations, carbohydrate metabolism and physiological age. Long-term goals are to gain a more detailed understanding of potato physiology, and to identify specific molecular and cellular events that predict or influence the marketability of stored potatoes. Specific projects conducted at HARS include:  Vine-kill treatment and harvest date relation with persistent effects on tuber physiology.  Effects of infection on stem-end chip defect development in potatoes  Causes of stem end chip defect in chipping potatoes  Potato tuber dormancy  Impact of potato maturation in storage  Detecting storage pathogens by monitoring volatiles in the storage atmosphere  Tuber skin set in Wisconsin potatoes A.J. Bussan and Dale Nelson observe bin research in research facility Mary Lemere conducts sugar extraction of potatoes Bussan and LeMere: Characterize sugar profile and predict processing quality of new potato varieties and elite breeding lines as well as provide service to growers to monitor sugars and processing quality during harvest and post-harvest  Impact and pressure bruise in potatoes  USPB/Snack Food Association Trial: Elite chip clones from US breeding programs  Potato Fresh Market Trial: russet, reds, yellow flesh and specialties  Semi-commercial bin evaluation of elite clones with most potential for the fresh and processing markets.  Bulk bin storage evaluations to determine best management practices for Umatilla, Innovator, AO95409-1, Lelah, Lamoka, Nicolet, W5015-12, Tundra and Waneta LeMere:  Monitoring sugar and processing characteristics for growers (Fee for service)  SpudPro Trial: Elite clones from WI breeding program; fresh market and processing.  Wisconsin Variety Trial: Advanced and elite clones; fresh market and processing 11
  • Gevens:  Evaluation of stored potato diseases (pink rot , silver scurf, black scurf and powdery scab) Groves:  Long-term storability of Potato virus Y infected tubers Snap Bean Breeding, Variety Trials and & Snap Bean Cultivar Evaluation (James Nienhuis, AJ Bussan, Amanda Gevens) Nienhuis focuses his research on integration of plant breeding with developing technologies in molecular biology. In the last few years his research group executed projects on the following topics:  Developed varieties with resistance to root rot including: ‘Accelerate’ or UW3, and three additional protected lines in collaboration with Felix Navarro and Michell Sass.  Marker-Facilitated Selection for a Major QTL Associated with Aphanomyces and Pythium Root Rot Resistance in Snap Bean  Identification and confirmation of quantitative trait loci for resistance to root rot and bacterial brown spot in snap beans  Nitrogen use efficiency on snap beans  Breeding for virus resistance on snap beans James Nienhuis research plot comparison of Wisconsin root rot resistant lines and root rot susceptible bean varieties 12
  • Gevens:  Evaluation of fungicides to control white mold in snap beans Bussan:  Commercial variety agronomic performance of snap beans and sweet corn  Snap bean irrigation and nitrogen use  Nitrogen mineralization and uptake in snap bean and sweet corn Sweet corn variety trial conducted in collaboration with Midwest Food Processors industry Cucumber & Melon Breeding Yiqun Weng is responsible for cucurbit breeding. He replaced Jack Staub several years ago. The focus of his program is on germplasm characterization and enhancement; genetics and genomics of important traits in cucumber; development of molecular markers and applications in breeding practice; genetic diversity, phylogenetics and comparative genomics in Cucumis species; development of cucumber genomic resources. Weng projects at HARS include:     Fine genetic mapping of cp: a recessive gene for compact (dwarf) plant architecture in cucumber, Cucumis sativus L Spacing and genotype effect on fruit sugar concentration, yield, and fruit size of muskmelon Inheritance of the Quantity of ß-carotene and Fruit Maturity of Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Nearly isogenic cucumber genotypes differing in leaf size and plant habit exhibit differential response to water stress 13
  • Yiqun Weng and his research group discuss research strategies in cucumber breeding Organic Production (AJ Bussan, Amy Charkowski, Jim Nienhuis, Amanda Gevens, Jed Colquhoun) HARS has a field of 15 acres dedicated to organic production under corresponding certified production practices. This allows researchers to evaluate the feasibility of organic practices on heirloon and new crop varieties. Research projects executed include:  The feasibility of organic nutrient management in large-scale sweet corn production for processing  Feasibility of organic weed management in sweet corn and snap bean for processing  Effect of organic amendments on soil borne and foliar diseases in field-grown snap bean and cucumber  Root rot resistant varieties adapted to organic production Food Safety (Jeff Ingham)  Escherichia coli contamination of vegetables grown in soils fertilized with non-composted bovine manure 14
  • Outreach Outreach activities conducted at HARS provides the opportunity for interaction between growers and industry with UW faculty, academic staff, students and HARS personnel. This interaction is essential for the communication of advances on research to stakeholders. At the same time growers and industry provide guidance to help align research priorities with the needs of WI agriculture. Outreach activities conducted at HARS include.  Meetings with stakeholders organized as grower and industry association committees  Meeting with individual growers visiting the station  Collection of samples from individual growers to be sent to pathologist or entomologists on campus  Annual WPVGA sponsored Potato Field Day  Annual Potato Variety Harvest Expo  Midwest Food Processors field day (snap bean and sweet corn)  A.R. Albert & Villetta Hawley-Albert Horticultural Garden Twilight tour Potato growers and industry personnel evaluate new elite potato breeding lines at the Annual Potato Variety Harvest Expo A living proof that it is never too early to observe research advances! Final Remarks The mission of the Hancock Agricultural Research Station integrating research and development for WI Agricultural Systems is a service that the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has understood from the early years of the station. The College realizes the importance of research that addresses the needs of growers and industry. Historically, researchers such as J.C. Walker, a member of CALS from 1919 until his retirement in 1964 provided the proof of the value of research for agriculture. Walker developed disease-resistant varieties of cabbage, onions, beans, peas, beets, potatoes and cucumbers. Several times during the first half of the XX century, Walker's research prevented the collapse of key segments of the state's multimillion-dollar vegetable processing industry. His research also made vegetable production possible in many areas of the world where diseases previously had decimated crops. Today, the College, growers and industry have developed infrastructure to make possible great advances in research, student training and outreach. The integration of these elements are key to agricultural development in WI and beyond, in agreement with the Wisconsin Idea. 15