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Features From the Farm 062814

News from the West Central Research and Outreach Center

Summer events and activities at the WCROC

Esther Jordan

Communication Specialist

Nestled among the fields and meadows of western Minnesota, the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) conducts research in the areas of agronomy and soil science, dairy, horticulture, renewable energy, and swine. The summer months provide an ideal time to showcase a few of our research areas by offering several educational events and activities for all.  

Summer Center Day

Visitors may choose from three crop production tours, including information on pest management and control of pigweed species, organic cropping systems, and phosphorus management. Tours include:

• Presentations by Bruce Potter, U of MN IPM Specialist, and Jeff Gunsolus, U of MN Extension Weed Scientist

• Information on the effectiveness of a woodchip-based bioreactor to reduce nitrogen flow from a watershed, as presented by George Nelson, WCROC Scientist. Nelson will also discuss an organic cropping system in place at the WCROC.

• Presentations by Dan Kaiser, U of MN Extension Soil Scientist, and Doug Holen, U of MN Extension Educator, Crops

Summer Center Day is scheduled for Friday, July 11. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with tours beginning at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  All tours leave from the WCROC Farm Shop. Summer Center Day wraps up around noon. The event is open to the public and free to attend.  

Horticulture Night

Join us for our largest event of the year. Horticulture Night has been a staple of the WCROC summer calendar for the past 44 years. We invite several skilled presenters and educators to come and demonstrate on horticultural related topics. This year, presentations include:

• Keynote Speaker, Bobby Jensen from KARE 11’s Grow with KARE (6:30 p.m.)

• The Pros and Cons of Mulching

• How Healthy is your Vegetable Garden?

• Growing and Caring for Apple Trees

• Organic Foods: Only the Facts

• Grilling up your Harvest

• Shady Characters: Perennials for the Shade

• The Critical Importance of Pollinators

Other activities include an annual flower walking tour, low tunnel strawberry plot tours, cow milking demonstrations, tours of the WCROC Farm, 4-H food booth, vendor booths, live music, and several hands-on children’s activities. Horticulture Night is scheduled for Thursday, July 24 from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

Organic Dairy Day

As the first land grant institution in the Midwest to develop an organic dairy herd dedicated to research and education, the WCROC is the only university-sanctioned operation to manage a conventional and organic dairy herd side-by-side. Organic Dairy Day will feature:

• Keynote speaker, Hue Karreman, a veterinarian from the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, who will speak about health issues in organic dairy cattle.  

• Brad Heins, Assistant Professor of Dairy Science at the WCROC, will provide an organic dairy research update.

• Pasture Walks on cover crops for grazing and alternative forages.

• Field Tour for summer fly control

Organic Dairy Day is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please contact Brad Heins at

Other Activities

As part of Prairie Pioneer Days, tours of the Horticulture Display Garden will be offered on Saturday, July 12 at 1 and 3 p.m.  Sunrise Yoga in the Garden is scheduled for Sunday, July 13 beginning at 6 a.m.

Aside from the planned events this summer at the WCROC, visitors are always welcome to explore the Horticulture Display Garden on their own. The Garden is open daily from dawn until dusk. Admission is free, donations are accepted.

From the Garden, visitors get a closer view of the WCROC 1.65 MW wind turbine as part of ongoing renewable energy research. An Ag Energy Conference is scheduled for June, 2015 and will feature our newest research projects involving the installation of renewable energy systems in the WCROC milking parlor and swine housing facilities.

For more information on any of our upcoming events, please call 320-589-1711, or visit our website at