NEPAC-Past-Present

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					NEPAC Past


In 1976, a long-range plan for all of the agricultural land operated by Purdue University
(College of Agriculture) was developed. The purpose was to make a critical evaluation
of each property and to develop a program that would maximize the effectiveness of the
land-grant mission of agricultural research, teaching, and Extension.


Northeast Indiana Need


At about the same time, Purdue researchers and Extension personnel began to express
a need for a research site in northeast Indiana. Producers in this area had been
requesting development of programs that would permit systematic investigation of
appropriate hybrids, varieties, crop protection products, crop rotations, tillage methods,
and fertility practices. None of the nine regional Purdue Agricultural Centers (PACs) at
the time were representative of the unique soils, topography, and climate found in the
northeastern part of the state. The common perception was that production research
conducted on the level black prairie soils typical of Tippecanoe County and west central
Indiana in general didn’t transfer well to the rolling, lighter colored forest-based soils of
northeast Indiana.


In the early 1980’s, the Purdue Research Foundation placed the acquisition of a
northeast Indiana farm on its priority list, and three farms were acquired through annuity
contracts. These farms were in or near Noble County. After they were acquired, a
number of Purdue specialists, department heads, administrators, and Extension field
staff were asked to review the farms and make recommendations. No consensus could
be reached because each of the farms had some inherent disadvantages for research
or Extension functions. Other potential sites were also being looked into, including a
farm at Avilla and federal land in Huntington County.


With no consensus from faculty and administration on campus, the idea of a research
farm in this part of the state was put on hold. It was also about this time that the
relocation of the Animal Sciences Research Farm complex north of West Lafayette was

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in full steam, and this effort no doubt took funding and focus away from the pursuit of a
northeast Indiana research farm.


In 1988, Purdue University sold the Miller-Purdue Agricultural Center in Grant County
because it was considered redundant; it was close to the Davis-Purdue Agricultural
Center and had nearly identical but more poorly drained soils. Research at Miller-PAC
included grazing pressure trials; animal and pasture management; a breeding program
using Hereford, Brown Swiss, and Charolais cattle; and woodland management and
timber stand improvement. From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, the greatest
significance of the research done at Miller-PAC was in the area of animal/plant
relationships, pasture trials using specifically designed paddocks. With the expansion of
confined feeding in the 1960’s into the 1980’s, this type of research was deemed much
less applicable to producers.


Northeast Indiana Need Fulfilled


With the decision to close Miller-PAC, the Board of Trustees at Purdue indicated that
proceeds from the sale would be used to start up a research center in the northeast part
of the state. Also in 1988, Horace Paarlberg, the director of the regional PACs for over
25 years, retired, and John Trott, a former Extension agent in Monroe and St. Joseph
counties, was hired.


Understanding the agricultural importance of the northeast part of the state and the
need for Purdue agricultural research to reflect the needs of the area, Trott made it a
priority to establish a research farm in northeast Indiana. With the financial backing
provided by the Board of Trustees, Trott moved forward and contacted those who were
familiar with land in the area.


One person contacted was Denzil Schrader, an auctioneer and realtor in Whitley
County. He and his associate, Gene Klingaman, identified properties acceptable to the
research needs and contacted key people. They played significant roles in helping
Purdue Agricultural Administration decide where to locate. One of Schrader’s

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properties, located just south of Coesse, was selected as the headquarters for the new
research farm.


Three tracts of land eventually made up the much-needed and long-awaited research
site in northeast Indiana. The first tract, given in trust by Denzil Schrader in 1989, is 170
acres and is called the Schrader Farm in his memory. Schrader also convinced one of
his neighbors, the late Merle Kyler, a local farmer and loyal 4-H supporter, of the need
for such a farm. Kyler also gave part of his land in trust to the university, and the 85-
acre Kyler Farm lies two miles to the west of the main headquarters. Both benefactors
realized that a Purdue Agricultural research farm would be a great benefit to the people
of northeast Indiana. The third piece of the puzzle was a 185-acre farm one mile to the
north of the Kyler Farm that Purdue purchased at public auction from the estate of
Harvey Lawrence, a Whitley County farmer.


NEPAC Present


The Northeast-Purdue Agricultural Center (NEPAC) is a modest-sized research farm
made up of the three tracts of land totaling 440 acres. The land purchased by and given
to Purdue is typical of farmland in northeast Indiana, unique rolling, glaciated soils. The
northeast corner of the state is unlike any other part of Indiana, so agricultural research
conducted at NEPAC transfers much more readily to the local farmers than that
conducted on the flat black prairie soils of west central Indiana or the soils of virtually
any of the other regional PACs. Farmers in the area want to know how a particular
practice and/or a management system is going to work on their farm.


Of the 440 acres that make up NEPAC, 360 acres are tillable, and about half of these
acres are devoted to field research annually. Before field research began at NEPAC,
there was a need to learn as much as possible about the land—its productivity and
suitability for research. The first year of operation and crop production at NEPAC was
dedicated to just that.




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At the Schrader Tract in the spring of 1991, with the assistance of the Department of
Agricultural & Biological Engineering, a grid system for sampling the soil and precisely
mapping the topography was set up. The grid was based on 100-foot squares, so there
were about 560 sampling points on this 130-tillable-acre tract. At each point on the grid,
soil was sampled and tested for fertility levels and physical characteristics as well as
being classified for soil type. During the growing season, crop growth, weed pressure,
and insect populations were monitored. At harvest, yield was measured at each of the
grid points. All the data obtained by the end of the growing season was used to evaluate
the productivity and variability of the soil so that the proper layout of the research fields
could be determined.


Since the dedication of NEPAC in 1992, research has been focused on row-crop
production research—primarily working with corn and soybean production but also
some wheat and canola. NEPAC is one of the largest producers of canola in the state
because Purdue agronomist Dr. Ellsworth Christmas and later Dr. Shawn Conley and
then Dr. Shaun Casteel have planted between 3 and 5 acres every year for the past 19
years.


Research projects conducted at NEPAC at present are in the areas of soil fertility;
insect, weed, and disease control; precision agriculture; and corn, soybean, alfalfa, and
canola production and performance trials.




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