WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) - We continue our focus on the agricultural roots of Waseca County by taking a closer look at how the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center has evolved over the years.
“Our value really stands out in the fact that we integrate people, we bring people together from campus, across the world,” said professor and head of the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center, Forrest Izuno.
The University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center started in 1912.
“As a demonstration and that’s how information was delivered back then, people wanted to come and actually see, they didn’t trust a lot of the early stages of research back then,” said associate professor in the department of agronomy and plant genetics, Gregg Johnson.
The center evolved over time.
“It’s not so much demonstrating principles, but it’s learning about the science and learning about the research that goes into making production system recommendations,” said Johnson.
Now the science and the outreach portion of the research center goes hand in hand.
“You can’t do the outreach unless you’re doing the science, the most fun we have with outreach is when we have the hands on experiments or the results of the experiments and we can show people right here what’s happening,” said Izuno.
Research projects are different over the years, but the common goal remains the same.
“What we try and do here is always be relevant, so we’re trying to be relevant for current production for next year’s crops, answer some of these really burning questions that farmers really need to get a handle on now,” said Izuno, “but at the same time we’re looking ahead to ten to 50 years from now, how do we stay resilient, how do we keep producing, how do we feed more people, what are the questions going to be.”
Research continues to keep on eye on the basics, while looking at certain aspects such as environmental and health implications.
“There’s medicinal value, chemopreventive value to some of these crops, why not grow some of these crops to help you stave off cancer or stay away form cancer, we have a big part of our program in horticulture that goes that way,” said Izuno.
“So you can sort of see how the whole context of research has changed from maybe we’re just going to look at corn, fertility or something, to this system-oriented, longer-term questions and again trying to get farmers, agribusiness, society all sort of ready for those changes,” said Johnson.
The research and outreach center also trains more than 20 grad students a year at the facility.
“We teach them and we send them on out there and we send them out there with these thoughts, these thoughts of what are we going to be, how are we going to do this in the future and you’re going to be teaching the next generation, so everything we do here is going to continue on through the generations,” said Izuno.
The center also works with other research entities to make sure everyone gets the most out of the research.