The Franklinton Chamber of Commerce began in 1942 efforts to secure an agricultural research facility for the purpose of generating information applicable to beef cattle and dairy farm enterprises, which would contribute to the economy and benefit of all area citizens. It represented diversification for the region where the major row crops at the time, cotton and forestry products, constituted the bulk of the area's agricultural economy.Land for establishment of the station was acquired in January 1944 with the donation of 248.2 acres by Gaylord Container Corp. and the purchase of 591.2 acres at a cost of $8 per acre by the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, providing a total of 839.4 acres. That area remains the same, but only little more than half is used for dairy production. The remaining land is used for forestry projects and wildlife reserve.
The first superintendent at the Southeast Research Station was the agronomist Sam H. Smith. After a short term as superintendent, Mr. Smith was followed by H. D. Ellzey, an agronomist (Photo 1).Ellzey and B. D. Nelson, a dairy scientist, pioneered research at the station in 1948 after land was cleared of stumps and pine trees. The first station Annual Progress Report was issued in 1948. Dr. Lee F. Mason, another agronomist who followed Ellzey as superintendent in 1974. In 1987, Dr. Mason retired and Dr. Jim Beaty, an animal scientist, became the resident director. Dr. Michael E. McCormick, also an animal scientist, was resident coordinator from 2002 to 2013. Dr. Charlie Hutchison, a dairy scientist, became resident coordinator in 2014.
Researchers initially focused on forage varieties and soil fertility for improved pasture grazing, greenchopping and haying. Annual grasses have been shown to have good qualities for increasing milk production during both summer and winter growing seasons. It was also determined that nitrogen fertilization could be economically applied to grasses if soil pH was corrected through liming and if phosphorus fertilization was adequate.From 1983 to 2015, the Southeast Research Station provided analytical support for forage quality evaluation to both researchers and producers within and beyond Louisiana through its Forage Quality Laboratory. Forages and grains can be routinely analyzed by wet chemistry and/or NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) for moisture, protein, fibers (NDF and ADF) and several macro-minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium) and micro-minerals (copper, zinc and manganese). The laboratory currently runs research analyses for scientists and early pregnancy detection blood tests for farmers.Through the years, research responsibilities at the Southeast Research Station have encompassed mainly three general areas -- agronomy, dairy science and forage quality. Agronomic research involves forage crop varietal evaluation, liming and fertilizer needs, tillage practices and weed control among other management practices. For forage quality, investigations have included different methods of preservation and nutrient content (protein, fiber and minerals). Currently, Dr. Kun Jun Han is responsible for the agronomy research. Research on dairy nutrition, reproductive performance, heifer growth and health practices also have been evaluated with the station's dairy herd. Research expanded at the Southeast Station to include research on manure management under the supervision of Dr. Vinicius R. Moreira.Research and extension programs at the station strive to complete the cycle of activities on a modern dairy operation to ultimately attend to a growing demand by Louisiana dairy producers and the general public for longer sustainability of agriculture in general and the dairy industry in particular.
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