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Published September 28, 2009, 06:13 PM

Agronomists hired to expand winter cereals project

FARGO - The focus of a North Dakota State University Extension Service area agronomy specialist, along with an agronomist based in Bismarck, will be dedicated to working with North and South Dakota growers to expand winter cereal acres across the Prairie Pothole Region.

By: NDSU Extension Service,

FARGO - The focus of a North Dakota State University Extension Service area agronomy specialist, along with an agronomist based in Bismarck, will be dedicated to working with North and South Dakota growers to expand winter cereal acres across the Prairie Pothole Region.

They will serve critical roles in supporting the ongoing success of Winter

Cereals: Sustainability in Action (WCSIA), a joint research and education initiative of Bayer CropScience and Ducks Unlimited.

As the NDSU Extension agronomy specialist, John Lukach will be working on the WCSIA project at the NDSU Langdon Research Extension Center. Lukach is responsible for planning, coordinating and conducting winter cereal research, as well as developing and coordinating production and soil management educational materials, meetings, tours and other activities.

Steve Dvorak joins Ducks Unlimited as a field agronomist and will be collaborating with Lukach on the project. Dvorak will be responsible for training and education and managing field trial research in 16 counties across south-central and southeastern North Dakota.

Bayer CropScience and Ducks Unlimited believe winter wheat has an important role to play in sustainable agriculture and joined forces in 2009 to launch the North American WCSIA project.

The initiative promotes a stewardship model for improving the agricultural productivity of farmland while retaining and improving the habitat values important to North America's waterfowl and other wildlife. Winter cereals provide spring nesting cover as well as additional cropping options to growers.

The winter cereals initiative includes increased winter wheat agronomic assistance, expanded research into new winter wheat varieties and research on the benefits of winter cereals for wildlife and the environment.

"NDSU is excited to be a partner in this effort," says D.C. Coston, NDSU Agriculture and University Extension vice president. "Recently, production of winter wheat has been increasing in North Dakota, so providing producers with new and enhanced techniques and technologies will be important for seeing this part of the industry continue to grow."

In its current status, the WCSIA initiative is moving forward at a rapid pace. In addition to hiring agronomists for the initiative, Ducks Unlimited is forging agreements with state universities to conduct research to find new varieties of winter cereals and is planning nesting survival research for spring 2010.

"We are very excited about the current direction of this project," says Geoff Kneen, vice president of special projects for Bayer CropScience. "We and Ducks Unlimited are committed to expanding winter cereals across the prairies in Canada and the United States. This is an important program which will continue to receive significant attention and resources as a way to secure its long-range success."

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved in North America.

Additional information about Ducks Unlimited is available at www.ducks.org.

Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, focuses on crop protection, nonagricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology. More information is available at www.bayercropscienceus.com.

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