University Awarded $90,126 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

June 1, 2007 – Southeast Missouri State University has been awarded a $90,126 USDA Rural Business Enterprise grant to assist with a Controlled Drainage and Irrigation Technology Project at the new University Farm. 

The funding will be used to purchase and install an irrigation system below ground level so water is not lost through evaporation.  John Hestor and Mark Nussbaum of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Jackson, Mo., office used a computer model to determine the economic benefits of installing the subsurface system. They say the computer model demonstrates substantial crop yield benefits over conventional or no irrigation.       University President Kenneth W. Dobbins recognized the key roles of three individuals for their efforts in support of the project.

“We want to express our appreciation to Greg Branum of USDA Rural Development, U.S. Sen. Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond and U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson for their roles in helping secure funding for this project,” he said. “The Controlled Drainage/Irrigation project is very important to our new farm.  Besides benefiting our own agriculture production, the system will become an efficiency model area farms can replicate.  This new technology also will be environmentally friendly.”

Faculty in Southeast’s Department of Agriculture say this project is an emerging technology that will serve three purposes:  improve agricultural productivity in the Missouri Bootheel and Ozark Border regions; encourage an entirely new array of agribusinesses that will design, install and maintain these new systems; and encourage related agribusinesses that will provide other technologies because of the yield advantages. 

“The Department of Agriculture at Southeast is very pleased to receive a Rural Enterprise Grant from USDA to develop a controlled drainage and irrigation system to advance the crop sciences at the new University Farm,” said Dr. Michael Aide, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture.

Aide thanked Mark Nussbaum, area engineer with USDA-NRCS, and Stan Murray, also with USDA-NRCS, who he said were instrumental in assisting the department with their proposal, performing a land survey and designing the system.

University officials say the system is scheduled to be installed this summer and fall. The new University Farm is located on the east side of Highway 25, just south of the intersection with Route K in Gordonville, Mo.