Production challenges can differ by crop, by soil type and by geography. At the Mid-South Agricultural Research Center (MSARC), a team of Valent U.S.A. researchers are developing the next generation of crop protection products with an eye on the challenges unique to southern growers.
"At MSARC, our focus is constantly changing, and every year brings its own challenges and its own questions. We're very apt to change direction and change research focus every year to reflect real-world challenges," says Matt Griffin, senior manager of Valent U.S.A.’s Mid-South Agricultural Research Center.
Located in Leland, Mississippi, MSARC includes a grow room, greenhouse laboratories, a sample distribution warehouse, a seed treatment pathology laboratory and land for both small plot research and large-scale field trials. Research at the Mississippi Delta facility relates to the area’s diverse array of crops including rice, cotton, corn, soybeans, peanuts, wheat, sorghum and vegetables.
The facility’s greenhouses allow plants to be grown and studies to be conducted throughout the year. Mississippi’s long growing season also allows on-farm conditions to be replicated in field studies. This ability to commit to ongoing research across seasons allows Valent U.S.A.’s researchers to share timely data with growers and other scientists.
MSARC’s seed treatment pathology laboratory supports germination tests on a multitude of crops under different environmental conditions. In that laboratory, scientists maintain a library of pathogens and seeds to support grower-focused research.
Valent's field discovery unit at MSARC encompasses all field work, including research focused on weed control, plant pathology and entomology studies, soil health research and more.
"The piece of property that MSARC sits on is composed of extremely varying soil type, creating the opportunity to grow a wide range of crops," Griffin says. "In one 250-acre block, we can grow a vegetable or a cotton crop that demands sandy soil all the way through to rice, which demands a finer textured soil with ample water use availability. We're located far enough north to experience four seasons of the year, and far enough south to be considered a subtropical environment."
Griffin stresses the advantages of having a research center located in in the Mid-South with its unique production challenges related to crop diversity.
"In Mississippi, every 40 acres is different," Griffin says. "Depending on soil type and water availability, you may see swaths of cotton beside rice beside soybean beside corn."