The Dakota Lakes Research Farm is a cooperative effort
Dakota State University and the Dakota Lakes
Research Farm Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation
established by area farmers. This group owns the land,
buildings, and other fixed assets. They work with the
manager in prioritizing research projects and planning
capital improvements. The funds needed to operate the
research program at the center come from three main sources.
They are provided by SDSU in several direct and indirect
forms; some come from grants funded primarily through
commodity checkoff programs; and the remaining resources are
generated from profits stemming from the production
enterprise at the Station. The production enterprise is
managed so that the research program is optimized. That is
the main purpose of the farm. Within this constraint, the
goal is to make as much money as possible on the production
enterprise and spend all of this money on research projects,
facility improvements, and equipment purchases and upgrades.
At the present time the operation consists of 3 quarters of
land at the Main Station and 360 acres of land located at
the North Unit. This land is along the East side of Canning
Road approximately 4 miles North of the Main Station. The
North Unit was purchased in 2000 to provide “West River”
soils (Opal and Promise) for research purposes. During the
1990’s this was done by renting land west of the Missouri
River from a private landowner. This parcel was known as the
Wheat Commission Rotation Study site. All of this land is
and has been farmed without tillage. We have been
exclusively no-till since the Station was started in 1990.
The main station is about evenly split between irrigated and
dryland while the off-station site(s) are dryland.
The station hosts numerous small plot studies by scientists
from the main University campus. These trials allow testing
of large numbers of treatments. The best of these treatments
often receive another level of scrutiny when they are
evaluated on a "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 135 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 mix.
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.