High Plains Ag Lab -- Sidney, NE


Wheat plot tour at High Plains Ag Lab

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Annual Research update set for Jan. 27, 2015

The latest results from crop and livestock research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL) near Sidney, faculty positions update, and building plans will be shared with the HPAL advisory board and the public at the annual research update scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 27, at Sidney. The meeting will take place from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Sidney Campus of Western Nebraska Community College. For questions, call the High Plains Ag Lab at 308-254-3918.

The public is welcome. Agenda topics include:

  • Welcome by HPAL Advisory Board chair Keith Rexroth
  • Director's update by Dr. Jack Whittier, Panhandle Director of Research and Extension
  • Operations update, Tom Nightingale, Farm Manager
  • Research updates: wheat stem sawfly, Dr. Jeff Bradshaw; proso millet breeding, Dr. Dipak Santra; oil seed crops breeding and production, Dr. Dipak Santra; winter canola under different tillage, Robert Higgins; field research of biotech crops, Bill Struckmeyer; what's new in soil management? Dr. Gary Hergert; grain legumes at HPAL, Dr. Dipak Santra; herbicide testing on field peas and fenugreek, Robert Higgins; field peas and summer annual forage mixtures for beef cattle, Dr. Karla Jenkins
  • Recognition of Tom Nightingale's career and contributions to HPAL
  • Advisory board discussions and business

New HPAL Office and Lab Dedicated

High Plains Ag Lab Ribbon Cutting

The new office and laboratory building at the University of Nebraska High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney was dedicated during the June 19 field day. Construction of the 2,800-square-foot building was supported by $500,000 raised by a local building project committee and the University of Nebraska Foundation. The more than 50 donors who contributed were recognized. Chief Industries was the general contractor. Cutting the ribbon on the new facility are (from left): Charles Hibberd, Dean and Director of Extension for UNL; Barry Shull, Facilities Director for the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR); Charles Fenster, professor emeritus who conducted dryland cropping research for decades at HPAL; Barb Schlothauer, retired director of development for the University of Nebraska Foundation in the Panhandle; Keith Rexroth of Sidney, chair of the building committee; Gary Hergert, interim director of the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center for the past year; Tom Nightingale, Farm Director at HPAL; Josh Egley, Director of Development at IANR for the University of Nebraska Foundation; and Jack Whittier, newly appointed UNL Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle.

Our mission: The High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL) is a satellite unit of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Our mission is to improve the profitability of dryland crop and livestock production through applied research responsive to the needs of local producers.


  • Address: 3257 RD 109, Sidney, NE 69162.
  • Phone: 308-254-3918
  • Directions: Six miles northwest of Sidney, NE, in the heart of western Nebraska's major dryland crop production area. View a map.

Research Capacity: Total acreage: the HPAL covers 2,400 acres, one-third in dryland crop rotations and two-thirds in pasture.

Expertise: Fifty to 60 research trials are conducted each year by scientists based at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center as well as University of Nebraska-Lincoln and neighboring states. Expertise includes agronomy; plant breeding, physiology, and pathology; soil fertility; irrigation; entomology; weed science; marketing and economics; and livestock nutrition.

Administration and Staff:

Panhandle Research and Extension Director: Dr. Jack Whittier
Ag Lab Supervisor: Dr. Dipak Santra
Farm Manager: Mr. Tom Nightingale
Advisory Board Chairman: Keith Rexroth, Farmer, Sidney,  NE

Rob Higgins, Cropping Systems Technician
Paul McMillen, Animal Science Technician
Vernon Florke, Alternative Crop Breeding Technician

High Plains Ag Lab

Crop Research:

Crop rotation systems: Research crops are produced on 27 fields ranging in size from 22 to 36 acres. View a 2009 map of research plots. Seven different crop rotations range in length from two to six years. Various cropping system components are represented: summer fallow, no-fallow, minimum tillage and no-tillage. These systems allow research with the same crops and rotations used by our clientele. In 2006, 75 acres were certified for organic production.

Irrigated plots: A 15-acre, lateral-move irrigation system enables scientists to simulate different precipitation patterns.

Long-Term Tillage Plots: Established in 1970 to compare moldboard plow, sub-tillage, and no-tillage fallow systems on winter wheat and soil parameters. A native sod treatment has been maintained.

Grain dryer and storage: A continuous flow dryer and grain storage system allow direct harvest of proso millet and emerging alternative crops with a stripper header.

High Plains Ag Lab

High Plains Ag Lab

Livestock Research

Nine pastures: Cattle graze crested wheatgrass pastures to assess supplementation, feed additives or health measurements on performance.