| The Dakota Lakes Research Farm is operated by South Dakota State University
but the land and other fixed facilities are owned by a nonprofit corporation established
by area farmers. This group works with the manager in prioritizing research projects and
planning capital improvements. The managers salary and the base wages of the 3 full
time employees is paid by the University which also contributes sufficient O and M moneys
to turn on the lights and heat the building. The remaining funds to operate the program
come from grants (primarily from checkoff funds) and profits on the production enterprises
at the station. The goal is to make as much money as possible on the production
enterprises and spend all of this money on research projects, facility improvements, and
equipment purchases and upgrades. Land rent is paid to the Corporation but most of this
money returns in facility improvements.
At the present
time the operation consists of 3 quarters of land at the main station and 320 acres of
land at a site located west of the Missouri River which is rented from a private
landowner. All of this land is farmed without tillage. We have been exclusively no-till
for over 6 years and predominately no-till (tillage only used for small plots and some
ridge-tillage used on gravity irrigated land) for over 10 years. The main station is about
evenly split between irrigated and dryland while the off-station sites are dryland.
Distance between sites exceeds 40 miles The station hosts numerous small plot studies by
scientists from the main University campus but all of our work (both on and off-station)
is done "production scale". This means that field size equipment is utilized
with all harvest results being weighed in a 300 bu.weigh cart. Two tractors, one drill,
one row crop planter, one sprayer, and one combine are used for all field work. The
tractors are 85 and 105 h.p. This equipment could farm at least 2,500 acres if all of our
land was in the production enterprise (no research) and we maintained our present crop
We make no pretense at having all the answers for producers interested in no-till. We do hope that our experience and success at developing no-till farming systems will be a benefit. We are confident that many of the principles which we utilize may be adaptable for benefit in many areas.
The comprehensive nature of the systems approach to no-till requires substantial cooperation across disciplines and agencies in transferring technology to the end user. A project to address this need was initiated in May of 1997. This project is a cooperative effort between the NRCS, private industry, Ducks Unlimited, South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Dakota No-Till Association, and South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service, South Dakota Ag. Experiment Station. The scope of this project covers technology transfer approaches ranging from creating local expertise teams to developing information resources on the World Wide Web. Jason Miller from the USDA-NRCS has been stationed at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm to serve as the coordinator for the two-year trial period of this approach.
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