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Hill Farm Research Station keeps north Louisiana agriculture viable

Buddy Pitman
Buddy Pitman, professor at the Hill Farm Research Station, conducts research to improve forage for cattle producers. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell)
Michael Blazier
Michael Blazier, associate professor at the Hill Farm Station, conducts research on switchgrass, grown among pine trees, as a source of alternative fuel. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell)
cattle at Hill Farm
Research to help cattle producers is a major focus at the Hill Farm Research Station. The station maintains a herd of about 350 head of cattle and 1,000 acres of pasture. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell)
pine forest at Hill Farm
Research to sustain the forestry industry in Louisiana is conducted at the Hill Farm Station, which maintains 400 acres of pine forest. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell)

Nestled among rolling pastures framed by tall pines is the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station – so named for the geography of Claiborne Parish, where it is located. It is the northernmost of the AgCenter’s off-campus research stations across the state.

Read more about the Oct. 9 field day, which will feature beef and forestry tours.

The Hill Farm Station was established in 1947 to help the farmers in that part of the state learn to farm more economically and efficiently. And that remains its mission, although the type of agriculture conducted there has changed over the years.

The station’s research now focuses on forestry, poultry and water quality. Forestry studies involve improving tree survival and growth by planting container seedlings, which are hardier than the bareroot seedlings conventionally planted. Research is also under way to explore the potential of Louisiana’s forests to produce alternative fuels. Switchgrass, which can burn as hot as coal to generate electricity or be processed into ethanol, is being grown between rows of loblolly pine.

The forage research program includes evaluation of more than 20 forage species with numerous varieties of some species evaluated each year. Research provides opportunity to discover the specific requirements for effective use of different plants and how they may fit into profitable livestock production systems.

Because agriculture production affects water and soil quality, scientists at the station study practices that ensure the continued safety of our food and prevent degradation of the environment.

One of the latest developments at Hill Farm is a poultry demonstration facility used to evaluate different types of equipment in terms of cost of operation and health of the chickens. North Louisiana is Louisiana’s principal poultry-growing region.

Initial research was undertaken on cotton, corn, horticultural crops, forestry, dairy and poultry. There was also a mobile soil testing laboratory. As the agriculture of the area changed, so did the research programs of the station. Row crop farming essentially disappeared with considerable conversion of acreage to pasture for beef cattle and hay production.

The Hill Farm Research Station plays a major role in sustaining Louisiana’s agriculture industry in north Louisiana.

The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.

Last Updated: 10/4/2012 1:31:31 PM

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