Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station
The Winifred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) is designed to provide facilities and outdoor laboratories to completely integrate the instructional, research, extension, and public service programs at Alabama A&M University, under the traditional land-grant concept. The 972 acres facility in Hazel Green is used by research faculty and graduate students for diverse agricultural research studies in Agronomy, Animal Science, Horticulture, Forestry, Soil Science and other Environmental topics. The facility is also used for numerous outreach activities for and by the community including workshops by Alabama Cooperative Extension Service (ACES), ROTC, field days, school field trips, 4H, FFA and more.
The facility is overseen by the Dean/Research Director of the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences (CALNS), under the mandate of the 1890 land-grants mission. Through the USDA, the Evans-Allen program supports agricultural research, along with other resources for extension activities with an emphasis on reaching socially and economically disadvantaged people. As stated in a report by Washington State University in 2009, ‘The Land Grant: What is it?’ “These universities continue to fulfill their democratic mandate for openness, accessibility, and service to people, and many of these institutions have joined the ranks of the nation's most distinguished public research universities. Through the land-grant university heritage, millions of students are able to study every academic discipline and explore fields of inquiry far beyond the scope envisioned in the original land-grant mission”.
AREAS OF RESEARCH at the WTARS
Biomass – Miscanthus, Switchgrass
Variety Trials – Canola: evaluation of winter canola varieties in collaboration with Kansa State University; Field corn, Sweet corn and Soybeans: yield trials of field & sweet corn, soybean (planting dates) in collaboration with Bayer Crop Science;
Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants – Turmeric, Basil, Hibiscus (Sorrel), Non-traditional vegetables and herbs;
Soil Health & Climate – Hydrology, Carbon monitoring & sequestration, Tornado tracking, Alabama Mesonet;
Small Ruminants – 1) Demonstrate effective pasture management and performance of co-grazing meat goats and hair sheep; 2) Evaluate variety of seasonal forages and legumes; 3) Evaluate average daily gain among individual animals and species; 40 Make research findings more visible and disseminate practical information about sheep and goats through on-site workshops, field days, and tours; 5) Demonstrate growth of stocker meat goats and hair sheep under mixed- species grazing; 6) Demonstrate forage utilization by stocker meat goats and hair sheep under mixed-species grazing; 7) Demonstrate integrated parasite control strategies used in stocker meat goats and hair sheep under mixed-species grazing; 8) Demonstrate potential economic advantages of stocker meat goats and hair sheep production under mixed species grazing.
Forestry & Agro-Forestry - Forestry research conducted at the Research Station includes the following studies:
- Sweetgum and American chestnut growth study. The sweetgum was thinned using three levels of intensity. We are now studying the growth and sprouting of the trees. We also under-planted American chestnut using three shade levels under the sweetgum and we used three levels of foliar fertilization. Led by Dimov.
- Hardwood agroforestry study and invasive species control study. The hardwood agroforestry plot contains a mixture of four tree species, one of which is non-native invasive. We are examining the growth of the different species and testing the survival of the invasive species after treating it with high-intensity directed fire applied for three different lengths of time during three different season. Led by Dimov.
- “Common garden” experiment. Trees from ten species are planted on this site and in a mirror site in Florida and Rhode Island. The trees from each species come from seeds collected throughout the geographic range of distribution for that species. Led by Dimov.
- Pine agroforestry study. Two loblolly pine clones are planted at high density (plantation
settings) and low-density (agroforestry settings). Tree survival and growth is followed.
Various agricultural crops have been getting planted in the agroforestry planting
Dr. Ibrahim and others also use these plantations for testing the growth of various grasses, the growth of grazing animals in open conditions and in the conditions of the agroforestry setup, as well as the soil characteristics and how they are modified by the trees. Led by L. Dimov, the animal and grass/soil experiment led by Dr. Ibrahim and others.
- Privet control study. Privet is a non-native invasive species. We are testing the effect of high-intensity directed fire applied in different seasons on the mortality and re-sprouting of privet. Led by L. Dimov.
- Pine growth study. A loblolly pine growth study established by George Brown.
- Virginia pine study. A Virginia pine seed production study established by Dr. George
- Brown Sedimentation study. A study established by Callie Schweitzer from the USDA Forest Service.
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