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Agricultural Research Center – Hays

Research & Extension Programs

Program goals are broad-based, general statements intended to further specify the mission statement. Program objectives are specific, shorter-term targets around which experiment station projects and extramural grant proposals are developed. They serve to constrain the research agenda scientifically and keep it focused on and within the scope of the mission. Each WKARC faculty member operates under a peer-reviewed, approved KAES project. Individual research projects are three-to-five year moving windows that address components of one or more organizational objectives. These research projects constitute the formal mechanism of implementation and also accountability to assure that the mission is addressed and tangible results are produced. Project objectives should be measurable and accomplishable within the designated term of that project.

  1. Goal: Develop efficient beef cattle management systems that delineate the interactions among all phases of the beef production cycle and which optimally utilize Kansas-grown forages and feed grains, complementary farmed forages, and native rangelands while aiming for maximum profit in the long term.
    1. Objective: Enhance reproductive efficiency of beef cows by taking advantage of breed differences, synchronizing estrus, reducing the post-partum interval, and minimizing dystocia.
    2. Objective: Develop forage-based, beef-production systems that enhance range forage conversion efficiency by exploiting range plant phenology, energy and protein supplements, and complementary [farmed] forages to ensure diet quality and quantity approaches optimum for various production phases.
    3. Objective: Determine proper preparation and ingredient combinations for growing and finishing rations that feature Kansas-grown feed stuffs, increase conversion efficiency, minimize cost of gain, and enhance product grade and yield.
    4. Objective: Determine cattle receiving and management strategies that minimize stress from transportation and pathogens and promote subsequent performance in growing or finishing environments.
    5. Objective: Utilize ultrasound technology as a basis for formulating marketing strategies that allow time-on-feed to be optimized and target grade to be achieved.
  2. Goal: Develop genetically-superior varieties and germplasm lines of principal and alternate crops for western Kansas that incorporate disease, insect, and environmental stress resistance; acceptable yield; and enhanced end-product quality.
    1. Objective: Combine selected traits from multiple sources of germplasm that will lead to superior wheat varieties with respect to agronomic performance, grain protein, and milling/baking quality without significantly sacrificing on yield.
    2. Objective: Transfer the white seed coat into wheat varieties equivalent to contemporary hard red winter wheat varieties with respect to performance and resistance in order to create new marketing opportunities for Kansas growers.
    3. Objective: Identify, isolate, and combine sources of resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus and its vector (wheat curl mite) in order to produce a broad base of resistance to this economically important disease.
    4. Objective: Cross multiple sources of sorghum germplasm in order to isolate and stabilize desired traits associated with disease and insect resistance, drought performance, and grain yield and quality in lines suitable for release to the commercial seed industry for use as parents in the production of hybrids.
    5. Objective: Identify and combine sources of resistance to maize dwarf mosaic virus and stabilize in lines usable by the commercial seed industry.
    6. Objective: Identify sources of resistance to contemporary greenbug biotypes suitable for transfer to commercial sorghum hybrids.
    7. Objective: Develop comparative crop variety/hybrid performance data for western Kansas applicable to supporting grower management decisions.
    8. Objective: Maintain foundation seed stocks for wheat varieties developed by the WKARC and other varieties that are in high demand in the region of focus.
  3. Goal: Develop sustainable [profitable] rain-fed and irrigated crop production and tillage systems that conserve the resource base, maximize water-use efficiency, minimize losses in yield and end-product quality from weed, insect, and disease pests, protect the environment, and capitalize on crops adapted to western Kansas.
    1. Objective: Test various combinations of crop rotations, varieties/hybrids, fertility regimes, weed control methods, and tillage implements superimposed on selected tillage systems (conventional, reduced-till, no-till, etc.) to support formulation of best management recommendations.
    2. Objective: Characterize competitive [ecological] relationships among crop and weed species in order to predict economic thresholds for mitigating the impact of weeds on crop production and profitability.
    3. Objective: Research and prescribe combinations of weed control methods, including mechanical, chemical, biological, ecological, and crop rotations, that optimize tradeoffs between input costs and environmental risk.
    4. Objective: Determine optimal designs and management strategies for irrigation water delivery systems in order to maximize water-use efficiency and the crop value added by each unit of water applied.
  4. Goal: Develop a predictive understanding of agricultural production systems for western Kansas.
    1. Objective: Design and implement studies that elucidate the biological mechanisms behind specific plant or animal response to management or environmental variables and describe mathematically where possible.
    2. Objective: Design and implement studies that lead to mechanistic understanding of the interactions among environmental and management variables and their effects on plant or animal response.
    3. Objective: Provide WKARC scientists access to system scientists [modelers] and economists in order to use research data to synthesize, parameterize, and validate computer models that simulate biological and economic behavior.
    4. Objective: Apply research technology to environments and management scenarios that differ from those used to generate the research data using simulation models and on-farm validation sites.