Colorado State University graduate student among those receiving ag research funding

A Colorado State University graduate student and a Colorado farmer were awarded a total of $54,311 by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) in 2011. One project focuses on diversifying the winter wheat/fallow cropping system. The other project focuses on reduced nitrogen application and potatoes.

Full project descriptions and leader contact information are at

CSU graduate student Henry Castleberry’s project, “Impacts of Reduced Nitrogen Application During Late Growing Season on Potato Tuber Quality and Profitability,” addresses better understanding of the effects of different rates of late-season application of nitrogen on tuber maturity of four russet potato cultivars. The project goal is to determine if potatoes grown in a sustainable system of reduced nitrogen inputs can produce improved economic returns. Castleberry, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, will provide results to farmers through field days and grower meetings.

“The project will help to determine if growers are economically better off if they do not make late-season nitrogen applications,” Castleberry said. “We are specifically looking at varieties of potatoes that are popular with Colorado farmers to determine if late nitrogen applications actually improve yield, but also if potential quality and storage problems mean that any economic gains made by late nitrogen applications are offset by damage and losses at harvest and in storage.”

Producer Mike Williams of Hayden will lead his project, “Alternative Crops to Diversify the Traditional Winter Wheat/Fallow Cropping System in Northwest Colorado,” in developing a new cropping system that includes winter peas, a leguminous crop, which will diversify the winter wheat fallow-crop production system. Oilseed crops also will be examined. This new cropping system for northwest Colorado will contribute to soil health productivity, provide additional farm income, and fit well into winter wheat production. Additional benefits also include providing livestock feed locally instead of shipping it into the area. Introducing a leguminous crop into a traditional wheat-fallow cropping system will reduce the application of expensive commercial nitrogen fertilizers; increase needed crop diversity; disrupt weed, disease and insect cycles; spread crop production risks; and reduce soil erosion and runoff.

Routt County Extension Director CJ Mucklow is a technical advisor on Williams’ project.

Western SARE, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, annually awards grants through five programs to help sustain agriculture, the environment and rural communities. Producers are actively involved in every funded project.

The Western SARE program funds competitive grants in five main categories:

• Professional Development Program grants, ranging between $30,000 and $100,000, are designed to help agricultural professionals train other professionals in sustainable agriculture concepts. Grant proposals are due Nov. 4, 2011.

• Producer grants provide up to $15,000 for an individual producer and $30,000 for three or more producers to conduct on-farm research. The due date for the next round of proposals is Dec. 2, 2011.

• Professional + Producer grants are available to agricultural professionals working with producers; the limits are $15,000 with one producer and $50,000 with three or more producers. Proposals are due Dec. 2, 2011.

• Research and Education grants, which range between $20,000 and $200,000, are available to agricultural researchers for applied research involving agricultural producers. The due date for proposals has passed.

• Graduate Fellow grants, worth up to $25,000, are used to assist students in their graduate research projects. The due date for proposals has passed.

Information on submitting a grant proposal under the next round of funding can be found at or (435) 797-2257. For more site specific information regarding the program, contact Dennis Lamm, Colorado SARE Coordinator, at (970) 491-2074 or