|PA Location Briefs|
Our Research Locations
"Research Excellence: Meeting Customer Expectations"
Above are links to brief descriptions of the fourteen USDA-ARS research locations in the Plains Area. The locations range in size from slightly more than 20 full-time employees to nearly 150 and the scientific staffs feature a wide variety of disciplines from veterinary science to agronomy, soil science to entomology, human nutrition to ecology, ag engineering to chemistry, food technology to genetics, plant pathology to pharmacology, and more. Overviews of each location’s research efforts are included below, along with links to their individual websites for more information. You can also learn more about job openings and community life at each location in our "Careers" section.
Research at PA’s Central Great Plains Research Station targets long-term sustainable minimum/no-till dryland crop rotations for the region. The research includes studies to evaluate alternative crop sequencing, fertility needs, and cultural practices to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag chemicals. Studies also look at the effect of rotation and cultural management on weeds, and weed-crop interactions; and on soil chemical and physical characteristics and nutrient cycling. Crop and soil simulation models are also being calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 98 years of climate and crop rotation data to extrapolate research results at CGPRS to other regions. Researchers are also assessing the economic risk of intensive dryland rotations to determine economic feasibility. Twenty full-time employees work at the location.
Researchers at PA’s North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, SD, are working on an array of issues associated with the production of feed, food, and biofuel crops. They are also focused on optimal uses of biofuel manufacturing coproducts. In terms of production research, they are developing cropping systems for sustainable agriculture, management strategies for major pests of cereals and associated crops, carbon balances, and soil microbial interactions. The location’s rearing facility and its unique colonies of corn rootworm populations support national and international research projects aimed at managing this pest. Regarding biofuel coproducts, value-added uses for distillers grains are being developed and commercialized. Some of these include livestock feeds, aquatic feeds, industrial materials, and human food ingredients. The more than 30 full-time employees at the location are also integrating research data and management information into decision support tools for ag producers and the fuel ethanol industry.
Cheyenne, WY / Fort Collins, CO
The research mission of the Rangeland Resources Research Unit [High Plains Grasslands Research Station, Cheyenne, WY; Central Plains Experimental Range, Nunn, CO; Crops Research Laboratory, Fort Collins, CO] is to develop knowledge of ecological processes in semi-arid rangeland ecosystems, and to incorporate this knowledge into management practices which address production and conservation goals. The Unit’s research emphasizes understanding the effects of management practices and disturbances, climate and global change, and interactions on population and community processes that influence ecosystem goods and services produced from a variety of ecological states. Major research areas address 1) the influence of management practices, disturbance processes and interactions to influence plant community change, vegetation heterogeneity and nesting habitat for grassland birds, 2) effects of predicted global changes (CO2, temperature, and precipitation) on plant communities, mechanisms and risks of weed invasion and nutrient cycling, 3) the development of knowledge and tools for rangeland managers regarding mitigation of and adaptation to global change, and 4) the development of field-based and remotely-sensed methodologies for assessment of and monitoring rangelands.
Clay Center, NE
Scientists at the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) develop new technology in order to increase the efficiency of livestock production and benefit consumers. The USMARC sits on 35,000 acres near Clay Center, with research programs using female breeding population of 6,500 cattle of 18 breeds, 3,000 sheep of 10 breeds, and 700 swine litters per year. Scientists at Clay Center are developing scientific information and new technology to solve high priority problems for the U.S. beef, sheep, and swine industries. Objectives are to increase efficiency of production while maintaining a lean, high quality, safe product; therefore, the research ultimately benefits the consumer as well as the production and agri-business sectors of animal agriculture. Current research focuses on infectious diseases in domestic livestock; waste management; breeding and genetics; improved reproductive efficiency in cattle, swine and sheep, and foodborne illnesses and spoilage associated with red meat, to list just a few of the projects undertaken by the more than 120 full-time employees at the Center.
The Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center consists of 6 units housed in 2 federal facilities in Fargo, ND and a federal worksite in E. Grand Forks, MN. The mission of the more than 130 full-time employees at the center is to reduce the negative impact of foreign chemicals in food animals and food processing; improve effectiveness of insects used in IPM programs for control of pest insects and weeds; study physiology, genetics, and molecular biology of weeds to improve and/or discover management strategies; develop knowledge and germplasm to improve hard red spring & durum wheat, barley, and oat; improve quality and profitability of sugarbeet and potato production via research on germplasm enhancement, crop protection, and postharvest physiology; and develop knowledge and technology to benefit the sunflower industry.
Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins is home to the Plains Area Office. This location is comprised of the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP), the Crops Research Laboratory (CRL - which houses the Sugarbeet Research Unit and part of the Rangeland Resources Research Unit), and the Natural Resources Research Center, Building D (NRRC), which houses the Area Office, Agricultural Systems Research Unit (ASRU), Soil-Plant-Nutrient Research (SPNR), and Water Management Research (WMR). Fort Collins is home to nearly 150 full-time employees and research efforts address a wide variety of agricultural issues, examples of which include:
Grand Forks, ND
The Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center located in eastern North Dakota is staffed by 15 senior scientists and 82 support personnel and is one of six Human Nutrition Centers operated by the Agricultural Research Service. The Center has been a world leader in nutrition research for more than 40 years; its research focus is on the roles of food in preventing obesity and related disorders (cancer, heart disease, bone loss). The Center is particularly interested in health effects of foods produced in the Northern Plains, and has projects on beef, wheat, honey, beans and lentils. The Center partners with the U. S. Army Institute for Research in Environmental Medicine in conducting research on dietary mitigation of losses of muscle and bone during periods of negative caloric balance. It also has partnerships with the local Park District and Y-Family Center in conducting community-based studies of diet and physical activity in the maintenance of healthy body weight.
Nearly 70 full time staff work in two research units at the Lincoln location. Researchers in the Agroecosystem Management Research Unit work to address livestock associated insect, pathogen, and odor issues; to improve management of natural and renewable resources; and to make agriculture more sustainable. Researchers in the Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit work to improve the productivity, stability of production, and profitability of wheat, sorghum, forage and biomass energy crops in the Central Great Plains and Midwest through the development of improved plant materials and management practices. Research is currently focused on genetic improvement of grain quality for human and animal nutrition, forage and biomass quality and production for feed and bioenergy, and disease resistance in wheat and sorghum.
Scientists at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, ND seek to develop sustainable crop, livestock, and biomass production systems for the northern Great Plains. Research includes work on adaptive crop sequencing, animal nutrition, residue management, grazing systems, biofeedstock production, carbon cycling, and soil management. The development of value-added products to enhance environmental services and economic returns is a fundamental component of this research. A team-focused, systems-oriented approach is used by approximately 35 full-time staff to meet research objectives and translate key findings for clientele through effective outreach and technology transfer.
The Center for Grain and Animal Health Research (formerly the Grain Marketing and Production Research Center) is the only USDA research laboratory in Kansas. Located in Manhattan, CGAHR is composed of five research units with more than 100 full-time employees. CGAHR scientists and staff are recognized world-wide for innovative research and technology development. The Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit investigates animal diseases vectored by arthropods and develops strategies to minimize their impact on the livestock industry. The Engineering and Wind Erosion Research Unit provides new tools for measuring grain quality and for segregating grain based on these different quality attributes, and is developing methods for controlling wind erosion of the soil along with an expert software system that can be used to determine the effectiveness of various erosion control systems. The Grain Quality and Structure Research Unit determine the relationships between the biochemical content and the end use quality attributes of wheat and sorghum. The Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit is investigating the ability of insect pests and diseases to attack the wheat plant at the genetic level and produce wheat germplasm that provides resistance to these diseases and pests. The Stored Product Insect Research Unit develops new methods for controlling insect pests in grain and food products. The Stored Product Insect Research Unit develops methods for managing insect pests in stored grain and grain-based food products.
Miles City, MT
The Fort Keogh ARS Livestock and Rangeland Research Lab in Miles City is located on 55,000 acres of semiarid rangeland in eastern Montana. The rangeland beef cattle research facility has 30 plus full-time employees charged with researching and developing ecologically and economically sustainable range animal management systems that ultimately meet consumer needs. In particular, animal researchers at the site are studying ways to reduce the cost of efficient beef production through enhanced efficiency of nutrient utilization and improved reproductive performance, while range scientists are studying the interacting effects of grazing, fire, drought, and invasive plants on plant communities and the effects of changes in vegetation and animal physiology on livestock.
The Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT has about 45 full-time employees working in two different research units: the Agricultural Systems Unit and the Pest Management Unit. Researchers in the Agricultural Systems Unit are focused on the long-term goal (10-12 yrs) of developing crop production methods and strategies for economical, sustainable irrigated and dryland farming enterprises in the Northern Great Plains. The focus of this unit’s research is on: 1) improved management of pests, water and nutrients to increase net profitability, and 2) assessing the impacts of integrated cultural practices and cropping rotations on soil and water quality conservation and pest ecology for both irrigated and dryland operations. In addition to small grains, sugar beets, potatoes, malting barley, and other more standard crops, researchers in this unit are looking at incorporating new biofuel crops into existing rotations and expanding pulse crops . Scientists in the Sidney lab’s Pest Management Unit are focused on solving key pest and weed problems, through the development and implementation of biological and cultural management strategies that enhance profitability and environmental quality. Research is conducted on both the ecology and management of key insect pests (including grasshoppers, Mormon cricket, sugarbeet root maggot, wheat stem sawfly and alfalfa weevil) and the biological control of invasive weeds (including saltcedar, white top, dalmatian toadflax, Russian olive, and orange hawkweed) and the restoration of invaded or disturbed areas. A new plant-insect containment facility has been built at the Sidney site, which will further speed research efforts into new biocontrol agents.