High Plains Ag Lab -- Sidney, NE


Wheat plot tour at High Plains Ag Lab

Photos from Field Days

Ag Statistics

Annual Research Reports

2011 Dryland Weed Control Report

High Plains Ag Lab Newsletters

High Plains Ag Lab field Day on Aug. 11
will feature building naming for Charles Fenster

The High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL) Field Day scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 11, will highlight UNL research on a wide range of subjects important to area producers: crop breeding and variety trials; management of curl mites and wheat stem sawflies; the search for alternative crops; and forage and peas for livestock feed.

The field tours aren't the only attraction at this year's Field Day. In addition, the new HPAL headquarters will be dedicated as the Charles R. Fenster Building, in recognition of the pioneering UNL cropping systems specialist who worked at HPAL for many years.

Read a profile of Charlie Fenster and his work at HPAL

Ribbon cutting for the new building was held in 2014. It was constructed with help from a fund-raising campaign begun in 2012 and supported by numerous individuals, foundations, and agricultural businesses.

The 2,800-square-foot building provides new offices for permanent staff; work stations for students or visiting scientists; a conference room; and space for seed and plant material handling. HPAL will continue to use part of the former headquarters, an original 1940s-era structure that was part of the Sioux Army Ordnance Depot when the U.S. government gave the property to the university in 1970. 

The Aug. 11 field day begins with welcome and lunch at noon, at the new headquarters. The building dedication will take place after lunch and before the plot tours begin. The field day concludes at 4 p.m.

To get to the High Plains Ag Lab office, take U.S. 385 to the Huntsman Elevator (6 miles north of Sidney or 7 miles south of Gurley), then drive about 2 miles west, then ½ mile north.

The field tour will cover these topics:

  • HPAL Management and Research Update, Rob Higgins, Farm Manager.
  • How Can UNL's Research and Extension Address Producers' Needs? Extension Educator Karen DeBoer
  • Small Grains Breeding at HPAL, UNL Crop Breeding Specialist Stephen Baenziger
  • Managing Wheat Curl Mite and its Transmitted Viruses on Wheat, Gary Hein and Everlyne Wosula, UNL
  • Wheat Stem Sawfly Research Update, UNL Extension Entomologist Jeff Bradshaw
  • Variety Testing of Field Pea, UNL Alternative Crops Breeding Specialist Dipak Santra
  • Fenugreek, a Potential Medicinal Crop in Nebraska, Dipak Santra and Alex Pavlista, UNL Crop Physiology Specialist
  • Sorghum (Milo) in Western Nebraska, Cody Creech, UNL Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist
  • Tracking Residual N in a High Rainfall Year, Gary Hergert, retired UNL Soils and Nutrient Management Specialist
  • Weed management for Field Pea Production, Cody Creech, Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist
  • Use of Field Pea in Cattle Feeding, Karla Jenkins, UNL Cow-Calf Range Management Specialist
  • Forage and Range Trials, Karla Jenkins, UNL
  • Proso Millet Breeding, Dipak Santra, UNL
  • Advanced Crops Research, Bill Struckmeyer, UNL.

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, 2014, field day. 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, 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. Rob Higgins
Advisory Board Chairman: Keith Rexroth, Farmer, Sidney,  NE

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.