Tour of Uvalde-area agriculture operations highlights event activities
SAN ANTONIO – Research center administrators from institutes of higher learning throughout the U.S. met recently at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk in San Antonio for the 2016 winter meeting of the Research Center Administrators Society.
This year’s meeting was coordinated by the administrators’ society and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde.
“This meeting is a great opportunity for agricultural research center directors and administrators from across the country to get together and share ideas,” said Dr. Barry Sims, director of the Highland Rim Research and Education Center of the University of Tennessee and society president.
“While we have different challenges in terms of commodities, climate and other factors, we still have a lot of the same issues, such as center management, funding and the type of research we do, as well as what we can do to improve our research methods and properly train our graduate students.”
The meeting included presentations on Texas agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife agencies; the history, mission and future of the Edwards Aquifer; safety programs; fostering and benefits of statewide partnerships; the impact of drought on San Joaquin Valley agriculture; coping with drought and limited water in the Colorado River Basin; pesticide storage options; produce safety; Ohio State’s Farm Science Review; and community events tied to agriculture.
About 85 people attended the event. Institutes represented included Colorado State University, Cornell University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas; University of California; University of California-Davis; University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of Tennessee, Utah State University, Virginia Tech University and West Virginia University.
A highlight of the meeting was a tour of various agriculture-based operations in and around Uvalde as well as the AgriLife center there.
Among the locations they visited were Southern Commodities and Winter Garden Produce, both based in Uvalde, vegetable farms in Batesville, and an Espinaca spinach field and packaging facility in La Pryor.
“Meeting participants were able to get a first-hand look at agricultural operations and how the research and Extension programs done at the center and counties have helped area producers,” said Dr. Daniel Leskovar, center director and AgriLife Research plant physiologist.
“They were able to see cabbage and broccoli packaging operations at Winter Garden Produce, as well as production fields of spinach, cabbage and onion in Batesville and the fresh spinach packing operation in La Pryor. They were very impressed with much of the technology and efficiency they saw at these operations, including the state-of-the-art multi-row spinach harvester at the Crawford and Ritchie farms.”
After touring the AgriLife center, participants were given a presentation on spatial ecology of wildlife in Texas rangelands by Dr. Susan Cooper, AgriLife Research wildlife ecology associate in Uvalde. In addition, Leskovar gave a presentation on water conservation approaches for agricultural production in the area, and district AgriLife Extension administrator Kathleen Greer provided information on educational outreach throughout AgriLife Extension’s Southwest District.
“We were also very glad to give the administrators the opportunity to hear about this research and to see our work in growing lettuce with hydroponics and advances in artichoke production and nitrogen management for young olive trees, as well as seeing our sensing technologies used for phenotyping crops,” Leskovar said.