Field Day

Lyle Zoeller, Bell County Extension Agent for agriculture, discusses some crop trials in 2018 during a Farm and Field Day.

Farm and Field Day activities provide an opportunity for individuals to glean some knowledge about the latest in agriculture research — precision conservation, alternative crops, watershed efficiency and more — as well as pick up some information on the environmental components that make up our surroundings, including grasses, insects and birds.

The annual Farm and Field Day in Temple, sponsored by the USDA Agriculture Research Service and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, known locally as Grassland and Blackland research centers, will be 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at 720 E. Blackland Road.

This event is free and open to the public.

Field Days are set up to inform people about the activities of agricultural research, said Hal Collins, research soil scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Services.

“In the past, Field Day was geared toward our stakeholders, farmers and agri-businesses,” Collins said.

This year the desired audience has been expanded to include the public.

While the Blackland and Grassland research centers have been the lone facilities sitting in the middle of hundreds of acres of farmland between South Fifth Street and Old Highway 95, south of Loop 363, the growth in South Temple — housing developments, schools and retail — is getting ever closer.

“We want to show the public that we’re good neighbors and help them understand what we’re doing,” Collins said. “The types of talks that will be presented will provide a basic understanding of how agriculture fits into the environment and what effects agriculture has on specific groups of organisms, plants and animals.”

In addition to the expected field tours, there will be talks on bats, birds and bees — all important to agriculture production.

Some bats are insectivores and each can consume 600 to 1,000 mosquitoes and other types of insects in an hour, according to the National Wildlife Federation

Bees are pollinators and vital to crops, and birds have a role in the environment, Collins said.

“We want people to know what we do,” he said. “People drive by every day and wonder what’s going on out here.”

The Field Day will be something of an open house with a few of the many research projects on display. The goal is that visitors will leave with an understanding of USDA Agriculture Research work.

“We’re the research wing of the USDA that is tasked with solving problems important to agriculture,” Collins said.

There are 15 national programs that look at anything from plant and animal protection, to plant disease, manure management, food safety and food health. The USDA has about 700 projects going on within those national programs and there are 100 locations across the country participating in the varied studies.

A little over 600 acres are farmed around the Temple research station and 700 acres are farmed in Riesel.

Field tours will begin at 9:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., and will cover eastern gamma grass, switchgrass rainout shelter, sins of over grazing, benefits of cover crops, alternative crops and precision conservation agriculture.

The talks will be in the center’s library and will begin at 9:10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

There will be booths from the Native Prairie Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service Information, Grazing Animal Nutrition Laboratory, Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District mobile classroom, Web-based Agricultural Tools, Soil Health Laboratory and Soil Health and Rainfall Infiltration Demonstration.

A lunch will be available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the Academy FFA for $7 and includes burger, chips, cookie and water.

For information, contact Collins at blackland-temple@brc.tamus.edu.