Michael E. Salassi
Louisiana has an incredibly diverse agricultural sector for a state its size. Livestock, agronomic crops, horticultural crops, forestry, aquaculture and marine fisheries all constitute major components of the state’s agricultural production sector. The LSU AgCenter’s network of 15 research stations across the state supports Louisiana’s diverse agricultural industry with a broad range of research and extension activities designed to address the needs and challenges of the state’s agricultural industry.
Each of the research stations has faculty domiciled at those stations conducting a broad range of research activities. The majority of research is conducted on the land included in the stations, although many faculty also conduct research activities at locations off station, such as on agricultural producers’ fields, forestland and other land areas. AgCenter research stations also serve as locations for research conducted by faculty from AgCenter campus departments.
In the northwest region of the state, research activities at three research stations address issues over a wide range of agricultural production activities. The Red River Research Station in Bossier City conducts research in the areas of agronomic crop production (cotton, corn and soybeans), crop irrigation, soil and water management, and horticultural crop production (greenhouse tomatoes). The Pecan Research Station, near Shreveport, serves as a demonstration farm for production of alternative pecan varieties. At Hill Farm Research Station in Homer, faculty conduct research in the production of pine timber, poultry, beef cattle and forage crops.
Research activities at stations located in the northeast and central regions of Louisiana focus on production of major agronomic row crops including cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, milo and sweet potatoes. These stations include the Macon Ridge Research Station, in Winnsboro; the Northeast Research Station, in St. Joseph; and the Dean Lee Research Station, in Alexandria. The Dean Lee Research Station also serves as the primary location for research in beef cattle production. The Sweet Potato Research Station, in Chase, develops new sweet potato varieties and conducts a range of research activities to support the state’s sweet potato industry.
AgCenter research conducted at stations in the southwest and southeast regions of the state are more narrowly focused on a single primary commodity. The H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, in Crowley, and the Sugar Research Station, in St. Gabriel, focus on the development of new and improved rice and sugarcane varieties, respectively, as well as a range of research in other plant disciplines to support production of these major Louisiana crops. Research in sugarcane and beef cattle production is conducted at the Iberia Research Station, in Jeanerette. The Hammond Research Station focuses on research and evaluation of horticultural crops. The Southeast Research Station, in Franklinton, is focused on dairy production, while the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station, in Clinton, conducts research in the areas of forestry and wildlife.
Two AgCenter research stations are located in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. The Central Research Station is composed of a collection of individual research units that support plant and animal research conducted by faculty on campus. The LSU AgCenter Botanical Gardens at Burden, in addition to serving as a public venue of an expansive collection of botanical gardens, woodlands and wetlands, also serves as a research site for AgCenter faculty conducting research programs in horticulture, nursery and landscape, fruits and vegetables, wetlands and forestry.
A major component of the mission of the LSU AgCenter is to support the economic viability of Louisiana agriculture. Research stations across the state serve a vital role in the successful accomplishment of that mission.
Michael E. Salassi is the associate vice president and program leader for plant and animal sciences. He is also the chair of the Louisiana Agriculture editorial board.
(This article appears in the fall 2021 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Associate vice president Michael Salassi oversees the research and extension programs conducted from the LSU AgCenter’s 15 research stations. Photo by Olivia McClure