Dryland crops research is conducted at the High Plains Agricultural Laboratory (HPAL) 6 miles northwest of Sidney, NE. Located on 2,400 acres, HPAL research and extension focuses on crops and cattle grazing studies emphasizing dryland production systems. The headquarters building at the High Plains Agricultural Lab is named for the late Charles R. Fenster, longtime dryland crops specialist, in recognition of Fenster's lifetime work as a pioneering UNL cropping systems specialist who worked at HPAL for many years.
Arial View

Dryland Research

Current research includes:

  • Testing wheat varieties
  • Alternative crops (millet, sunflower, etc.)
  • Novel cropping systems with new crops
  • Management of wheat pests
  • Bioenergy crops studies
  • Grazing studies
  • Forage studies

Examples of Specialized Research

  • Variety trials
  • Pathology studies
  • Field equipment studies
  • Fertility studies
  • Planting date studies
  • Alternative crops trials
  • Breeding, genetics, and genomics of proso millet
  • Crop rotation and tillage studies, including no-till
  • Plant growth and development studies
  • Irrigation practices
  • Dry bean breeding nurseries and trials
  • Screening of exotic germplasm
  • Regional dry bean and chickpea trials
  • Breeding nurseries
  • Entomology studies
  • Weed control studies
people in field

Relationship with UNL, industry and stakeholders

Research projects are conceived, planned and supervised by UNL faculty based in the Panhandle. Collaborators sometimes include colleagues from other UNL campuses, other universities, or state or federal agencies. Research needs are identified in cooperating with producer/commodity groups, food processors, chemical companies, or other agri-businesses. Funding often comes from these sources, as well as federal, state and local government sources.

Cooperating landowners frequently agree to host agronomic trials or test new farming methods.