Investment in Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station highlights cutting edge MU agricultural program

Record-setting investment in Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station will help update and upgrade centers doing cutting edge research.

The UM System, MU, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and MU Extension came together for a $6.5 million investment in the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station.

“This is a huge and important investment,”Christopher Daubert, vice chancellor and dean of CAFNR, said. “It’s the single biggest investment the station has ever received and as a result we have a lot of structural needs and equipment needs.”

The Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station is not one “station” per se, but rather 17 different centers spread across the state. The centers contain nearly 14,000 acres of land and play host to “more than 35,000 people each year for field days, extension activities, and other field events,” according to an MU News Bureau press release. The money from the investment will be allocated to locations in regard to the demands of each particular center.

“We’re going to take a look at what all the priority needs are, and we’re going to try to be as efficient and comprehensive as we can be to distribute those dollars to the large number of needs we have at all the centers and farms,” Daubert said.

These centers are proving to be increasingly productive, both for MU and the state of Missouri. Just last year, they produced a new heart-friendly, high oleic soybean through fieldwork done at research locations throughout the state. High oleic soybeans produce a natural, stable oil so the product does not require extra watering. The oil also has enhanced cooking properties like high heat performance.

Breakthroughs like the high oleic soybeans helped inspire the investment, but Daubert credits much of the increased interest in the research centers to the field days the centers host.

“During the field day season, every one of the centers and farms gets to highlight all of the work that is being done at those centers and farms,” Daubert said. “Often times at these field days, we have members of the university and system leadership. [Vice Chancellor] Marshall Stewart, Chancellor [Alexander] Cartwright and President [Mun] Choi will frequent our events so they know first hand what the needs are and can witness how many of the buildings are needing uplift and renovation. They see the status of these fields and farms.”

Choi, who attended the announcement of the investment, has vocalized his support of MU agricultural research.

“We must invest in modernizing these centers to perform the cutting-edge research needed to grow Missouri’s global presence in agriculture,” Choi said in a News Bureau release. “Investment in the CAFNR Agricultural Research Center network will stimulate economic development across the state while delivering life-changing advancements to Missouri and the world.”

Daubert said that the Missouri farmers and ranchers will benefit greatly from the work that the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station will be able to do now, with Daubert emphasizing just how important their relationship is.

“We started at the end of last year with drought,” Daubert said. “With all the flooding this year it really put our farmers and ranchers in a difficult spot, but science is the answer … Exposing and helping our farmers and ranchers understand more efficient practice in their business and farming operations will help them remain profitable and viable in a changing economic global landscape.”

Members of CAFNR such as Daubert would like to see a greater integration of the goods that these centers and farms produce. Daubert believes the quickest way to integrate these products within the college would be through dairy products.

“For example, we have a great dairy farm,” Daubert said. “I would see in the not-too-distant future that products from our own MU cows can make it back into the dining halls so that we’re feeding MU students MU milk from MU cows. I would love [for] that to happen.”

At the end of the day, these centers are for Missourians, and this investment is going to reflect that. Economists project that the money will garner more than an $11 million return for the state. Daubert believes this community interaction is imperative, and that the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station is essential for the university to connect with rural Missouri.

“We can consider these centers and farms to be the front porch to the University of Missouri for rural Missourians,” Daubert said.

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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