Overview of Research and Resources at the Subtropical Agricultural Research Station in Brooksville Florida
HistoryThe SubTropical Agricultural Research Station (STARS) is a cooperative research unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. At the STARS unit, integrated research approaches are emphasized on a multi-disciplinary basis to address specific researchable problems of the industry.
A gift in 1932 to the Federal Government of almost 2,100 acres of rolling west central Florida timber and pasture land by Colonel and Mrs. Raymond Robins formed the basis for the STARS. Additional acreage has been added over the years and the STARS now totals about 3,800 acres with over 3,200 acres in pasture. Cattle used for research on the Station include about 600 head of breeding females with a total of about 1,000 head of cows, calves, and bulls. The headquarters for the STARS is located north of Brooksville, Florida, on Chinsegut Hill, one of the highest points in peninsular Florida at 274 feet above sea level.
The STARS has a distinguished history of accomplishments in support of the beef cattle industry, particularly for producers in the subtropical zones of the US. Prior to the 1950s, research at the STARS was conducted on citrus, poultry, and cattle. Significant contributions were made in beef cattle breeding and genetics during the Station's first 50 years. Differences in and between British, Zebu, and British x Zebu cross beef cattle were characterized. Additionally, widely recognized pioneering research was conducted at the STARS and reported in the Journal of Animal Science between 1971 and 1985. The research demonstrated the existence of genetic x environment interactions in beef cattle and showed that locally produced cows generally performed better than cows introduced from another environment. Starting in the 1980s in keeping with Agency priorities to increase production efficiency and profitability, ARS expanded research efforts in the areas of genetics and nutrition and added research efforts in the areas of reproductive physiology, forage management, and water quality and the environment. In 1998, the Florida Cattlemen supported a program increase for the establishment of a new research direction at the STARS to assess the impact of cattle operations on surface water quality, particularly with respect to phosphorus. This was initiated in 2000 with emphasis on cattle behavior and how congregation sites may contribute to excessive nutrients.
Recent Significant Accomplishments Include:
Current Research Thrusts
Physical ResourcesThe station is located in west central Florida and is composed of three major areas of land and one smaller parcel. The four units comprise the field laboratory of 3,800 acres of which about 3,200 acres are in permanent pasture. Cattle production at STARS is forage based with bahiagrass and rhizoma peanut as the predominant forage species. At any given time there are approximately 1,000 head of cattle (600 cows). Each major unit has animal handling and working facilities (hydraulic squeeze chute equipped with an electronic scale). Hay making equipment is used annually as are hay storage barns and equipment to feed the hay in winter. Facilities to store purchased dry feed and bulk molasses are used as is equipment for feeding. A 16-pen feeding barn is available pending renovation. Office and laboratory buildings are located at the Main Station. Laboratory equipment includes two automated wet-chemical analyzers, a near infrared reflectance (NIR) spectrophotometer with small and large sample devices and transport mechanism, a portable NIR analyzer, an automated gas chromatograph, an inverted light microscope, two stereomicroscopes, two fiber optic light sources, an embryo freezer, an embryo splitter, an ELISA plate reader, an ELISA plate washer, a HeatWatch system, two ultrasound imagers with 3.5, 5.0, and 7.5 MHz probes, a trans-vaginal probe, a laminar flow hood, four conventional hoods, a single gas incubator, a dual gas incubator, an automated autoclave, a water purification system, walk-in refrigerators and freezers (2 ea), centrifuges, incubators, muffle furnace, pH meters, conductivity meters, ovens, hydrometers, spectrophotometers, CNS Analyzer, iCAP 6000, and a freeze dryer. Equipment for soil sampling and processing include motor-powered trailer mounted soil auger and bucket augers (dry and soil sampling).
CollaboratorsUniversity of Florida, IFAS
Texas A&M University
University of Missouri
New Mexico State University
Louisiana State University
Texas Tech University
Livestock Issues Research Unit, TX
Genetics & Breeding, NE
Grazinglands Research Laboratory, OK
Bovine Functional Genomics, MD
Small Farms Research Center, AR
Principal StakeholdersFlorida Cattlemen's Association
Florida Brahman Association
Florida Farm Bureau
American Brahman Breeders Assoc.
National Cattlemen's Beef Assoc.
Texas Farm Bureau
Leachman Cattle of Colorado
Decatur County Feed Yard
Barthle Brothers Ranch
Doc Partin Ranch
Gray Shadow Ranch
Kempfer Cattle Co.
Texas AgriLife - Overton