Wheat plot tour at High Plains Ag Lab
Read about 50 years of High Plains Ag Lab history
HPAL June field day is online as a virtual event! Click here.
HPAL 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.

How to find HPAL:
  • Address: 3257 RD 109, Sidney, NE 69162.
  • Phone: 308-254-3918
  • Directions: Six miles north of Sidney, NE, on Highway 385, then west on County Road 32 (see map) In the heart of western Nebraska's major dryland crop production area.
  • High Plains Ag Lab directional mapAddress: 3257 RD 109, Sidney, NE 69162.
  • Phone: 308-254-3918
  • Directions: Six miles north of Sidney, NE, on Highway 385, then west on County Road 32 (see map) In the heart of western Nebraska's major dryland crop production area.
Administration and Staff

Panhandle Research and Extension Center:
Interim Director:
Dr. Jeff Bradshaw
Interim Assistant Director: Dr. Mitchell Stephenson
Ag Lab Supervisor: Dr. Cody Creech
Farm Manager: Mr. Jake Hansen
Assistant Research Professor: Amanda Easterly
Vernon Florke, Alternative Crop Breeding Technician
David Blanke, Research Technician
Stephan Geu, Research Technician

Research Capacity

Total acreage: the HPAL covers 2,400 acres, one-third in dryland crop rotations and two-thirds in pasture.

Annual Research Reports

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.

HPAL building named for Charles Fenster
Charles Fesnster Building at the High Plains Ag Lab
Assistant Research Professor Amanda Easterly and Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist Cody Creech in front of the Charles R. Fenster Building.

The headquarters building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's High Plains Agricultural Lab (HPAL) north of Sidney was named for Charles R. Fenster of Gering prior to the Aug. 11, 2015, annual field day, in recognition of Fenster's lifetime work as a pioneering UNL cropping systems specialist who worked at HPAL for many years.

Fenster's contributions to agriculture and conservation were saluted by several speakers

The 2,800-square-foot building provides offices for permanent staff; work stations for students or visiting scientists; a conference room; and space for seed and plant material handling.

Profile of Charlie Fenster and his work at HPAL

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.

Livestock Research

Nine pastures: Cattle graze crested wheatgrass pastures to assess supplementation, feed additives or health measurements on performance.