Case IH Agriculture, Value Implement and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) announce a long-term partnership to provide the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) with access to the latest agricultural equipment and precision farming technologies available, as well as the expertise of Case IH and the Value Implement staff.
A combination of new Case IH tractors, skid steers, tillage implements, a planter and a combine, delivered in early 2010 and each year thereafter, will be used for the day-to-day operations of the farms where approximately 50 students work and learn to manage an enterprise.
As part of the agreement, Case IH and Value Implement will be available to support classroom instruction and community activities such as University Field Days with hands-on field demonstrations. Students also will be invited to participate in the annual Case IH Student Plant Tour offered at one of its U.S. manufacturing locations: Racine, Wis.; Benson, Minn.; Fargo, N.D.; Goodfield, Ill.; or Grand Island, Neb.
UWRF has two laboratory and teaching farms close to campus, and offers the only ag engineering technology major in the state. Students are currently part of several sustainability initiatives and for example are producing biodiesel from soybeans and the waste vegetable oil generated by campus foodservice, and using it to power campus vehicles and farm equipment. The longer term goal is to complete the cycle – take the waste vegetable oil, turn it into biodiesel, power the tractors that plant the crops, harvest the seed, press out the oil, use it for cooking and then start the cycle over again.
The laboratory portion of students' coursework is completed at the University's two farm operations. The 137-acre Campus Farm features a pavilion with space for lectures and houses the largest public equine program east of the Mississippi River– which includes horse barns and a rodeo arena. The rest of the farm is devoted to other agronomy, horticulture and forestry projects.
The 477-acre Mann Valley Farm is the site of a new state-of-the-art Dairy Learning Center and an environmentally friendly composted bedding housing system. According to Bill Connolly, farm director, the animals are housed in an open area with a woodchip bedding system. The manure combined with the woodchips, microorganisms, moisture and warm temperatures begins the decomposition process.
Once the composting process is complete, it is applied to crops and sold to local homeowners, landscapers and nurseries for $30/yard. Last year alone, the sales totaled upwards of $10,000.
Only 30 minutes from the Twin Cities metro area, the farms' location provides a connection to agriculture for many who are unfamiliar with current production practices. Mann Valley Farm is also home to crop, beef, sheep and swine enterprises, and the facilities are designed to minimize wastewater.
Another possible area for research collaboration with Case IH is in the area of biomass harvesting. The Farm's cropland is used to produce the majority of feed required for their livestock. Connolly says there is potential to use Case IH equipment for harvesting corn cobs for feed and bedding – replacing the use of woodchips.
The partnership is fitting. The Value Implement locations in Arcadia, Menomonie and Osseo serve West Central Wisconsin; Case IH is headquartered in Racine, Wis.; and graduates of the UWRF frequently accept positions with both Case IH and Value Implement.
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