June 15, 2004
New ARS Facility Dedicated in Colorado
June 2004 -- The Agricultural Research Service dedicated a new research and administrative building April 20, 2004, on the grounds of Colorado State University's (CSU) Natural Resources Research Center. The new facility is home to three ARS research laboratories: the Soil-Plant-Nutrient Research Unit, the Water Management Research Unit and the Great Plains Systems Research Unit.
"This building will allow ARS scientists to work in state-of-the-art laboratories on campus with their CSU collaborators," said ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling.
Some 120 ARS employees will work in the new 100,000-square-foot building. The employees previously worked in separate buildings throughout Fort Collins. In addition to the research staff, the new building houses employees of ARS' Northern Plains Area Office and the agency's new National Software Support Center.
The building is one of four constructed by the General Services Administration on the CSU campus for use by USDA and U.S. Department of Interior agencies that deal with natural resources issues.
Scientists at ARS' Soil-Plant-Nutrient Research Unit study ways to improve efficient use of plant nutrients in irrigation systems. They investigate how agricultural management practices affect nutrient cycling and plant-nutrient uptake by crops. They also study how agricultural systems improve soil, water and air quality and protect the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
At the Water Management Unit, scientists study precision agriculture - the technique of farming specific areas of a field based on soil and water characteristics and weather. Farmers who use precision agriculture are likely to save money by the timelier and reduced application of both water and chemicals, resulting in improved water conservation, water quality protection and weed control.
Scientists at the Great Plains Systems Research Unit have developed several computer models to help farmers and others make decisions about farming practices. Agricultural producers and researchers can enter information about their farm, and the model will estimate possible outcomes on a wide range of topics. For example, the system will recommend how much fertilizer should be used to obtain optimal yields, or whether tillage or no-tillage systems would be best for that farm.
Other ARS labs located in Fort Collins, but not part of the new complex, include the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, the Sugarbeet Research Unit and several researchers affiliated with ARS' Rangeland Resources Research Unit at Cheyenne, Wyo.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
In Other Agricultural Research Service News
After 17 Years, the Cicadas are Coming - Billions of large, noisy, winged, red-eyed insects known as periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) will soon emerge from the ground, occupying large swaths of the eastern United States. They'll overrun many yards, pelt windows, fly into people, clog storm drains and basically wreak buggy havoc. But ARS has a message: Remain calm. Although cicadas may give many people the creeps, the bugs won't sting or bite, and they rarely damage plants. The cicada explosion will start in early-to-mid May in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, western North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and southern Michigan. Other states may see them as well. This activity will peak between mid-May and mid-June, and the insects will die off about four weeks after first emerging. The 17-year cicada is known as Brood X (10), or the Big Brood. Other broods have different cycles, and are not as intensely populated.