Projects in which the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s research and Extension units are helping agbioscience in the Natural State:
A partnership between the university and American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame Inc. has opened a new facet of soybean growing in Arkansas -- edamame. University of Arkansas plant breeder Pengyin Chen has developed a variety of edamame well-suited for Arkansas’s climate, and Cooperative Extension Service faculty are working closely with growers to develop production techniques for edamame in Arkansas. AVS contracted with Arkansas farmers to grow 900 acres of edamame in 2012, and an edamame processing plant was opened in Mulberry.
The fourth-largest biotech company in Arkansas was founded by two scientists at the university’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The company was begun in 2004 by Billy Hargis and Guillermo Tellez to embrace animal health and welfare and develop alternatives to antibiotics. Their work in probiotics as a way to fight disease-causing bacteria in poultry also showed promise in helping chickens better use their feed for growth. Four years after founding, the company was purchased by Pacific Vet Group. Hargis and Tellez remain part owners of the company, which employs 28 and was expected to earn $5 million in 2012.
Both the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service are tackling issues related to sustainability through several channels, including economics, agriculture production, and conservation of natural resources. The university hosts the Southern Risk Management Education Center, which helps producers improve marketing and protect themselves against financial flux. The Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability fosters research globally to help farmers not only stay in business, but also aid economic development.
Smart Nutrition Active People-Education, or SNAP-Ed, is a partnership between the Cooperative Extension Service, the state Health Department and USDA. The SNAP-Ed program provides nutrition education to food stamp recipients and other eligible low-income individuals and families. The program had direct contact with 39,539 people in 2012. The Cooperative Extension Service also offers fitness programs such as Strong Women & Men and Walk Across Arkansas to encourage people to exercise more.
The full report is available here.