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New Position: Research & Demonstration Manager

Posted Apr. 1, 2002

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Bryan Unruh, and I've assumed a new position in the Agricultural Division as the research and demonstration manager (referred to around here as the RDM). Since this is my first opportunity to contribute something in this publication, I thought I would try to relate to you the division's need for an RDM and where we plan to go from here. I came to the Noble Research Institute last June from Fort Stockton, Texas, where I had worked the previous five years as an extension agronomist for the Texas A&M University System.

So why did the Agricultural Division need an RDM, anyway? Until this position was created, each of the four NF consulting teams were responsible for the research and demonstration (R&D) work conducted at one of the four agricultural farms in the Ardmore area and the wildlife unit coordinator was responsible for that location, near Allen, Okla. It was decided that the consulting teams needed to spend more time working with their farm and ranch clientele and still be able to conduct R&D projects, but without a large time requirement to do the latter. The RDM position was created to centralize the R&D effort and oversee the day-to-day operations so that the subject-matter specialists would be free to engage more fully in the consultation effort. There is also a desire to strive for excellence and ensure well-designed experiments that are relevant, scientifically sound and to develop new technology that can be transferred to our clientele.

Before describing where we are headed in the future, the following is an overview of our R&D projects and farm resources. We currently have 43 R&D projects that involve all aspects of the disciplines represented within the division, including livestock, forages, soil management and fertility, horticulture crops, wildlife management, and economics. These projects are in place at our five farms or ranches and the following is a brief overview of them. Starting at our southern properties, we have two farms in Love County west of Marietta, Okla. the Red River Demonstration and Research Farm is near Burneyville and the Coffey Ranch, just west of Marietta. Moving north to Carter County, we have the Headquarters Farm in Ardmore, which includes the Foundation campus, and the Pasture Demonstration Farm northwest of Ardmore. Our northern property is the Wildlife Unit, near Allen, Okla., in Pontotoc County. These properties give us access to 3,405 acres of timber and woodlands, 1,875 acres of native grass rangeland, 1,521 acres of bermudagrass pasture, 821 acres of small grains pastures, 509 acres of pecans, 422 acres of a mixture of introduced and native grasses, and 1,573 acres of other types of areas including ponds, streams, wetlands, canyons, etc. We also expect to receive another 6,500 acres north of the Coffey ranch in 2002.

In addition to the R&D work conducted by our specialist staff, collaborative work with other divisions within the Foundation (such as Plant Biology and the Forage Biotech Group) and external groups will become increasingly important. Already, we have collaborative projects with research colleagues at Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado State and Mississippi State universities. There are many areas where the Noble Research Institute can provide support for research that could not otherwise be done because funding is not available or because state or federal research stations are unable to host certain types of studies; for instance, long-term field studies. We have the unique opportunity to do work that benefits our state and nation but may not be in vogue from the standpoint of state or federal funding. We need to pick up these types of projects that benefit our clientele and become a catalyst to do good work.