Plans to construct the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence are full steam ahead a year after the University of Kentucky received a $15 million grant from the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board and land purchase assistance from KyCorn. The university will lease the 294 acres of highly-productive land adjacent to the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton from KyCorn to conduct large-scale field trials.
“We were happy to assist the University of Kentucky move a step closer to building the center,” said Philip McCoun, KyCorn Promotion Council chairman and farmer from Shelbyville, “and we are already seeing results as the center works to help Kentucky’s grain and forage producers.”
According to the center’s director Dr. Chad Lee, they are in the construction design phase and final drafts are being prepared for bids.
“The plan is to break ground in January 2018 and to move in around May 2019,” said Lee. “The building will expand research capabilities and increase space for conferences and more faculty and graduate students.”
Even though the building and surrounding property will be dedicated to grain and forages, Lee said that all research and education programs, from beef to horticulture, will benefit from the new space.
Lee said that research efforts are also improving. KyCorn has been funding an irrigated corn study for several years. The current lateral irrigation system only allows for managed plot trials, but a new pivot system on the leased land will be used for larger, field scale research.
Talent at UK is growing as well. Plant pathologist Kiersten Wise and weed scientist Travis Legleiter, formerly from Purdue, joined the team on July 1. Lee also attributes the impending center to attracting plant pathologist Carl Bradley, forage specialist Chris Teutsch, and a “phenomenal jump” in graduate students.
As plans for the center are coming together, Lee continues to fundraise to meet the $15 million KADF grant match, and he said he is always thankful for the support of Kentucky’s agriculture community.
To support the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, contact UK College of Agriculture, Food & Environment Director of Philanthropy Marci Hicks at (859) 257-7211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.