The LSU AgCenter is scaling back research at the Iberia Research Station near Jeanerette, La., to increase efficiencies and reduce the duplication of research activities across Louisiana, said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture.
The station currently houses one scientist, Guillermo Scaglia, a beef cattle researcher.
Other AgCenter, U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Sugar Cane League scientists participate in cooperative research projects on sugarcane and grains at the station, but much of the acreage on the station has been dedicated to beef cattle research.
“The costs of operating a station for a single faculty member are excessive and not an efficient use of federal and state funding by the AgCenter,” Richardson said.
Scaglia is in the final stages of completing USDA-funded projects, and Richardson said the plan is to transition Scaglia’s research to the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center at Alexandria, where numerous research and extension faculty are domiciled.
“Dean Lee has personnel available and pasture resources he can use to continue his current and future work,” Richardson said.
The AgCenter plans to move the Iberia station cattle herd to the Dean Lee station before the end of the year. Scaglia’s USDA-funded research project on a separate herd of cattle will be completed by May 2019, and those animals will be sold.
Richardson said the Iberia Research Station will maintain a footprint for sugarcane variety work, and Scaglia will manage a small non-reproductive demonstration beef cattle herd on limited pasture acreage. Scaglia will have offices at Iberia and Dean Lee to support the cattle industries in the southwest and central regions of the state.
“We will continue to hold field days in support of our agronomy and livestock agents in those regions,” Richardson said.
The remaining land at the station will be offered for lease by local farmers or ranchers. Richardson said one aspect of the lease agreement at Iberia will be a requirement to work with AgCenter faculty on demonstrations. This process is similar to efforts several years ago when other acreage of the Iberia Station was leased for sugarcane and cattle production.
“State funding for the AgCenter has not increased in several years, and the cost of fully staffing and maintaining 17 AgCenter research stations across the state is not sustainable,” he said. “We have to be more focused in our research programs and still operate within the funds we are allocated.”