Agricenter International has named Bruce Kirksey as the farm’s new research director, replacing Jeff Ellis. Kirksey began work at the research farm and educational facility in east Memphis on May 11.

At Agricenter, Kirksey will solicit, plan and complete on-farm research trials with Southern field crops and be a spokesman for the facility. He will also organize the biannual Ag Technology Field Day to be held this year on July 16.

Kirksey has over 20 years of experience in conducting agronomic, horticultural and grass seed research.

One of Kirksey’s goals is to lend his expertise in precision agriculture to the farm, located off Walnut Grove and Germantown Parkway. “We’re looking at enhancing irrigation, fertilizer and GPS systems. That type of technology is already available to the farmer so we need to bring that down to the research level.”

Biofuel crops will continue to be a significant area of research at Agricenter, according to Kirksey. “We already have potential biofuel feedstock crops at Agricenter now, with sunflowers, kenaf, camelina and others. The challenge now is to determine if and how these crops and others can be used in a sustainable fashion.”

Kirksey envisions some Agricenter acreage devoted to drip irrigation and will work to update center pivot irrigation currently in operation on the farm. “We also want to get other types of irrigation going on other parts of the farm so we can increase our research abilities.”

Agricenter International also poses some unique educational opportunities for Kirksey. “There are so many people these days who don’t realize where their food comes from. I plan on working with the Agricenter’s director of education and University of Tennessee Extension as much as I can to educate the public on what is involved in getting their food and fiber to them.”

Kirksey received his PhD in plant and soil science and weed science from the University of Tennessee. He has worked in the industry as a senior biologist for BASF Corporation; as a product testing and information specialist with Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company/Emergent Genetics; and, most recently, as an “Answer Plot” manager with Winfield Solutions.

Agricenter president John Charles Wilson said, “Dr. Kirksey brings considerable experience in the design, establishment and implementation of field research and demonstration trials, along with data management and presentation. His direct experience also includes crop chemistry, crop genetics and traits, and multi-crop evaluations including cotton, corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, tobacco, forage and pastures, tree fruits and minor use crops. We welcome Bruce and the Agricenter looks forward to his contributions.”

Kirksey’s work schedule has been hectic in the few weeks he’s been on the job due to planting delays caused by wet weather. But by the third week of May, the sun was starting to shine and planters rolling. “This week has been beautiful. We’re planting corn, soybeans, cotton, you name it.”

Kirksey is a native of Millington, Tenn., and currently resides in Cordova, Tenn., with his wife, Marsha and daughter, Haley.

Kirksey can be contacted at bkirksey@agricenter.org or (901) 355-9124.

For more information on the Agricenter, see Agricenter.