From the Tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
As any farmer today knows, you have to maintain tight control of your input costs if you want to maximize the return on your investment and make a profit at the end of the season.
Everywhere you turn, prices are going up. Fertilizer prices have skyrocketed, fuel costs are near records, and these two costs have figured into the rising prices of food.
These concerns are just part of the reason why the work of the state’s 18 research stations is so critical to farmers. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partners with N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University on the research stations. Under the partnership, university researchers develop and conduct field research, while NCDA&CS staff manage the properties, prepare the lands and tend to research plots per the orders of researchers.
The research conducted on these stations, and the results provide a tried and tested foundation for new production techniques that can lead to savings for growers. And, hopefully, these kinds of savings can help keep food prices down, too.
Our state’s research stations continue to host agricultural field days, commodity-specific workshops and ag awareness days, providing farmers with an opportunity to see new practices at work and to ask researchers questions that relate to their own growing situation.
In my opinion, and experience, this kind of proven and tested advice is priceless.
Because our stations are situated in different climates and soil types, the research replicates the varied growing conditions of different areas – offering assurances that the practical application of the research findings will work for growers. Again, this is invaluable to farmers who already have plenty of other variables to deal with each growing season.
I hope growers and members of the communities where research stations are located have had an opportunity to attend some of the events and programs offered throughout the year. There are still a number of events planned for the fall and I hope you will be able to attend those.
On Aug. 6 at the Peanut Belt Research Station in Lewiston-Woodville there is a class on peanut, cotton and tobacco. The next day, the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Fletcher will hold its Tomato and Vegetable Crop Field Day. On Aug. 14, I am proud that the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville will host its 100th Anniversary Celebration – an accomplishment that pays tribute to the longstanding support of ag research in the state. On Aug. 28, the Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro will hold a Pasture Establishment, Design and Management Workshop. These are just a few of the upcoming workshops and programs hosted by the research stations. For a complete list of events, go to www.ncagr.com/research/FieldDays.htm.
We are blessed, both as consumers and as growers, that the state has invested in agricultural research through the years. It is an investment that has paid, and will continue to pay, big returns to the state.
Agricultural revenue has provided the foundation for our state’s development and growth, and agriculture remains our leading industry. As the nation and world shift focus to developing renewable, sustainable energy, I believe agriculture will remain the state’s leading industry. North Carolina has the capability, the research know-how and the natural resources to figure prominently in our country’s goal of greater energy independence. I am encouraged and excited by the prospects.
Just as rising costs are affecting families and farmers, they are also impacting the research stations themselves. These added costs are just part of what I, and the deans and leadership of the agricultural programs at N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University – partners in the 18 research stations – will talk about as part of long-term strategic planning for the research stations program.
I met recently with Dr. Johnny Wynne, dean of NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dr. Donald R. McDowell, interim dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A& T, and Dr.Ray McKinnie, N.C. A&T associate dean of extension, to talk about the future of our research stations and how we can make them even better so they continue to serve agriculture’s needs.
North Carolina agriculture has through the years proven its ability to adapt to changing markets, emerging pests and diseases and global competition. It has met these and other challenges head-on and with an eye towards the future.
In the same way, I believe Deans Wynne and McDowell and I are determined that these stations continue to provide the research foundation to support North Carolina’s agricultural needs for generations to come.
These 18 stations represent the agricultural legacy and sacrifices of those who came before us, and we must do everything we can to preserve, protect and enhance these resources for those who will follow.