Arkansas Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory
Plant parasitic nematodes are an economically important pest that affects many row crops, horticultural crops, golf courses, and trees and shrubs in Arkansas. Nematodes are host-specific organisms and the strategies for management of the species will vary by crop. Chemical control options for nematodes are limited so often crop rotation to a non-host is the best solution. The Arkansas Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory offers bioassay and quantification services for the following crops:
- Cotton, Soybean, and Corn (Root-knot nematode, Soybean cyst nematode, Reniform nematode)
- Rice (White tip nematode pest-free certification for export)
- Cedar and Pine (Pinewood nematode pest-free certification for export)
- Turf (Lawns and golf courses)
- Horticultural crops and shrubs (Commercial crops and home garden and landscape, pest-free certification for nursery stock)
- Forage crops
- Custom assays are available
- Out-of-state samples are accepted per APHIS regulations.
The Center provides research-based results in the areas of forestry, horticulture, plant pathology, and beef cattle that positively impact food, fiber, and bioenergy production, especially for southwest Arkansas. Forestry research in the woodlot and all-aged management has been a feature of the Center since the beginning. Horticultural research in fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and grasses includes evaluations on fruit breeding lines and ornamental landscape plants, and trials on commercial horticulture like cover crops of watermelon, IPM tomatoes, and high tunnel strawberries and blackberries. Plant pathology studies include disease research on a variety of field crops such as wheat, soybeans, and cotton, as well as horticultural crops such as blackberries, watermelons, and peaches. Beef and forages research concentrates on beef quality and major forages common to the region.
- Encompasses 1,185 acres located in Hempstead County about 3 miles northeast of Hope, AR
- Has a 200-cow beef cattle research and demonstration herd and about 700 acres of timberland used for forestry research conducted collaboratively with the Arkansas Forest Resources Center at UAM
- Horticultural research, primarily small fruit and tree fruit crops, and agronomic crop (wheat, soybean, cotton, and corn) research are conducted annually
- Home to the Arkansas Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory that provides statewide nematode assay and identification services
- Home to the Forage Testing Laboratory
- Soils are mainly fine sandy loams with the Bowie and Sacul soil series being the predominant series with some finer-textured soils including the Una silty clay loam in some of the lower-lying areas
- Located within the West Gulf Coastal Plains physiographic soil region
- The staff consists of the Center Director, 1 faculty, nematode lab director, 4 research and Extension technicians, 11 full-time farm employees and 2 administrative support staff
- Meeting facility with seating capacity for 150
- Arkansas Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory with approximately 3,100 sq. ft. of laboratory space equipped with semi-automatic elutriator, compound and dissecting microscopes, autoclave, low-speed centrifuges, 150 sq. ft. walk-in cooler, and a clean area with laminar flow hood for microbiological work
- 150 permanent concrete micro-plots for soil ecology research
- 2400 sq. ft. forage research laboratory with drying ovens, frozen storage, and bench space for feed and forage analysis
- 2,100 sq. ft. of greenhouse space
- 200 sq. ft. environmentally-controlled plant growth room
- Three 30 ft. × 60 ft. high tunnels
- 20 acres for horticultural and agronomic crops research equipped with a drip or overhead irrigation and fenced for deer control
- Field and specialized research equipment for crop planting, maintenance, irrigation, and harvest
- Stocker Unit consisting of 115 acres of pasture, divided into 45 pastures for replicated research
- 12-pen feedlot facility with 200 head capacity
- Cow-Calf Unit has 253 acres with automatic watering devices and movable electric fencing
- Livestock handling facility with tub-type chute system, electronic scales, and hydraulic working chute all under roof inside an 18 x 24-meter metal building, and 12 sorting pens
In 1923, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the creation of the Fruit and Truck Branch Experiment Station devoted to the “investigational work relative to the problems of fruit and truck farmers, including fruit and truck production, varieties, soils and soil management, crop rotation, other crops for the fruit and truck farmers, livestock and poultry for the fruit and truck region, and any other crops adapted to such system of farming together with the economic problems of the farmers of that section”. State funding was provided in 1925, and 185 acres of poor, unimproved, depleted, unprofitable hill farmland typical of the region was acquired in December 1926 and deeded to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees (BOT). Located on the U.S. Highway 67 (Bankhead Highway) just three miles northeast of Hope, the land acquisition was made possible through donations of thirty-seven businesses and forty-nine individuals of Hope. Work at the Branch Station began in 1929.
In the beginning, fruits and vegetables were the crops of interest since the surrounding area was known for watermelons and strawberries. By 1930, there were 1,200 experimental plots covering fruits, vegetables, and some agronomic crops. However, by 1960 agriculture changed in the region. Fruits and vegetables lost their place as other major agricultural enterprises such as forestry, agronomic crop, and beef cattle production began to gain dominance. The station was also renamed the Southwest Branch Station at this time to reflect the change.
To meet the new demand, the Division of Agriculture leased the 1000-acre Spencer Tract in 1961 allowing for the establishment of a research herd of about 400 head. Pastures were subdivided into research paddocks on the basis of cool season grass, legume, and nutrition research. A Beef Bull Performance Testing facility consisting of 40 stalls was built in 1962 and later expanded in 1972 to add another 20 stalls.
In 1938, the Farm Woodlot Study was initiated, which demonstrated the selection management for small woodlots and their productivity. The Spencer Tract allowed forestry research to expand into Christmas trees, competition control, pest control, and nutritional studies. Row crop research expanded into the evaluation of varieties of corn, grain sorghum, and soybeans along with associated cultural and nutritional studies. Although greatly diminished, the horticulture research did result in muscadine culture, varieties of dwarf crepe myrtles, and the little-leaf cucumber during this period.
The Southwest Branch Station was renamed the Southwest Research & Extension Center (SWREC) by the BOT in 1981, leading to the stationing of a Ph.D.-level Extension forester and the hiring of assistant professors of Plant Pathology, Forages, and Agronomic Crops. In 1971, the BOT purchased the Spencer Tract, and in 1982 construction was completed on a new office building while the old office building was later converted into a laboratory. The State Nematode Laboratory was moved to SWREC in 1990. Beef bull testing was halted in 1994, and the facility transformed into an experimental feedlot which assists in the understanding of nutrition, meat quality, and profitability of cattle operations.