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Celebrating 100 years of research and outreach

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/03/2013 4:33 PM

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WASECA, Minn. — Balloons, cake and speeches were featured as the Southern Research and Outreach Center celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sept. 19.

Southern Research and Outreach Center began in 1913 when land was purchased and designated as the Southeast Experiment Station.

University of Minnesota regent emeritus Dallas Bohnsack remembered his first visit to the center when as a child he rode along with his father who brought a weed he needed identified. The weed was foxtail, Bohnsack said.

Through the years, the Waseca site has been at the forefront of agricultural research.

"It is a jewel," Bohnsack said.

Crop breeding techniques at SROC led to modern corn hybrids and SROC superintendent Robert Hodgson researched using soybeans as an oil seed crop rather than a forage crop.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug did his first field plot research at SROC in the late 1930s. Later, Takumi Izuno, the father of the current center director, Forrest Izuno, studied at SROC. In 1968, the elder Izuno worked alongside Borlaug.

Now, researchers at SROC are studying ways to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment, Bohnsack said. Drainage, sow housing, calf feeding, herbicide use and effectiveness and tillage are all research topics at Southern Research and Outreach Center.

Brian Buhr, interim dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, said the research and outreach centers are the living laboratories of the university.

In the hundred years since the research center at Waseca opened, corn yields and milk production per cow has increased fivefold and wheat yields have tripled.

"That's really the story of research and outreach centers," Buhr said.

It takes people working together across generations and a supportive community to achieve the remarkable milestone of 100 years of operation, said center director Izuno.

The need for the research done at research and outreach centers has never been greater, Buhr said. It's been a success story that needs to go forward for the next 100 years.

More than 3,000 people attended the centennial celebration.