Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

That was then; this is now

By Vince Fritz

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 1:16 PM

E-mail article | Print version

WASECA — Field days and workshops at the University of Minnesota's Southern Research and Outreach Center may have changed significantly over the last 100 years, but the goal of delivering relevant high quality research-based information has remained the same.

In the early years of the SROC, outreach programs focused on providing farmers with the best information to help them increase production and profit. Crop and livestock-based outreach events were common then and attracted producers and rural families from across the region.

Understanding the benefits of fertilizer, determining the best variety to grow, and being better equipped to manage disease and insect pests were key topics.

While the SROC still offers education in those key areas, the facility also recognizes the importance of providing timely information across a broad array of topics that are relevant to producers, consumers and rural communities.

Agriculture has become increasing more efficient. Consequently, there are fewer people actually farming the land. People living in rural and urban communities no longer feel a direct connection to agriculture.

As consumers these people play an active role in agriculture by affecting markets and policy.

More than a decade ago, the SROC made a strategic decision to expand its agricultural outreach programming to include the general public in an open house.

The focus of the open house is to reconnect people to the land by showcasing how producers and researchers have a direct impact on their everyday lives. Many facets of modern agricultural production are presented — including bioenergy crop production, phytonutrient rich vegetable crops, and swine and dairy nutrition and management.

These topics are presented in venues that enable visitors to experience the impact first hand. For example, visitors are given the opportunity to sample a number of horticultural foods that may have enhanced health benefits that prevent the development of cancer through a Chemopreventive Cafe.

At previous open houses, visitors were able to sample cooked pork and experience how different food recipes fed to pigs affect both leanness and taste.

These are just a few examples of the many learning opportunities that visitors will have at the Centennial Open House on Sept. 19 from 3 to 8 p.m.