By Tim Linscott
Around 60 local community members and representatives of the University of Nebraska gathered at the Hastings Memorial Library on Wednesday, Dec. 4 to hear and see the plans for the Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center.
In September, Marvin Stumpf of Grant donated an entire section of land and over $1 million to the university to build a wheat research center in honor of his family. The land is located just outside of Grant on Fourth Street and Road 329.
Archie Clutter, dean of agricultural research division and director of Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource for the University of Nebraska, told the crowd in attendance that this opportunity will have a huge impact on not only the county, but the world.
“We are committed to carrying out research and extension integration better than anywhere else in the world,” Clutter said. “We will focus on local topics and needs but will also help feed the world.”
The center will help link cutting edge technology between facilities in Lincoln and throughout the High Plains.
Extension Cropping Systems specialist for the Western Central Research and Extension Center for the university, Bob Klein, explained that the success of all crops depends on the success of wheat.
“It is very appropriate that Marvin donated this land for wheat research,” Klein said. “This situation gives us a tool to put the land to use. I think this will be a good thing for everyone.”
Don Adams, district director of the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, told the crowd that the university is always looking ahead.
“Things don’t happen overnight, but it is important to plan and work ahead,” Adams said.
Offices, a research center and large storage unit that will double as a presentation area are currently included in the design for the building. Adams explained that the presentation area will house up to 400 people for field days, demonstrations and presentations of research material and experiments.
The building is slated to be put in the middle of the section to give people a chance to work with irrigated and dryland crops side-by-side.
“We want tech stations out there where you walk right out of the building into a plot and demonstrations,” Adams said. “With it being so close to Grant, we want to attract a youth audience where kids can come learn and have access to services they can’t get anywhere else.”
Moving the extension office out of the courthouse and into the research center is also in the plans, as is adding two new employees through the extension service. One will be an agronomist and the other a youth educator who will be teaching ‘on the ground’ in a hands-on method.
Technicians, graduate students, scientists and support staff will also be housed at the research center.
The opportunities are far reaching and unlimited, according to Adams and other officials in attendance at the meeting.
“If locals have problems, we will have scientists in the county doing cutting edge research,” Adams said. “We will also be looking at world problems.”
An advisory committee made up of locals will be in contact with the research center to help local producers tackle issues from pests, crop disease, plant pathology and conservation, but the list is almost endless of the resources available to local producers through this project, Adams noted.
“There is a lot of promise for what is here,” Adams said, explaining the university wants to build public and private partnerships in the area.
A timeline for the project will be by Jan. 1, 2014, when designs will be finalized, with ground being broken by late spring of 2014. By fall of 2014, the hope is to have the building occupied.
Stumpf has already been working with the university on planting a crop on the section and research will begin this spring.
A mechanism to get feedback from the public is in the works, according to Ronnie Green, NU vice president and IANR vice chancellor.