County Ag News

Hancock Research Station Potato Day


On July 15, the Hancock Research Station is hosting their annual Potato Field Day. Extension personnel explaining current research projects that are underway will hold field tours of the research station, which will feature short presentations. This event is open to the public. Following the tours there will be a short presentation by UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Kate Vandenbosch. 

The field tours will be followed by a social hour with lunch and refreshments provided by the Wisconsin Potato Growers Association and the Wisconsin Potato Industry.

The Hancock Research Station is a 412-acre vegetable crop research farm located in the Central Sands area of Wisconsin. Field trials at the station are related to potatoes, field corn, sweet corn, soybeans, snap beans, carrots, cucumbers and switchgrass. The station is also home to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Storage Research Facility.

Research began at the Hancock Research Station in 1916 by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences on land belonging to the Hancock Development Company. The intent of the research was to aid general livestock farmers in their attempt to make a living on the droughty sands of central Wisconsin. 

Six years later the Board of Regents purchased 95 acres from this private company, and by 1934 they had acquired two more adjacent parcels to bring the farm to 223 acres. Research efforts for the next twenty years were directed towards dairy feeding, pasture utilization, soil fertility management, and studies with coniferous and deciduous shelterbelt plantings for wind erosion control. 

Irrigation possibilities came to the forefront in the late 1940s with aluminum pipe becoming available and the discovery of an ample, easily accessible water supply. Irrigation brought renewed hope to the people of the area and redirected the college’s research efforts. Studies began to reveal two-, three-, and sometimes four-fold increases in crop productivity when irrigation was used. 

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