Ag and Energy Center
Central Lakes College Ag and Energy Center builds futures as it delivers valuable products, services, and education, which contribute to the economic vitality of the region.
To be the premier Ag and Energy Center known for leadership and collaboration in innovative demonstration, research, education, and training.
The Central Lakes College Ag and Energy Center was started in 1968. Two local Ag instructors Bill Guelker and Don Baustian approached Dr. Lund with the idea to start an agriculture research and demonstration site primarily focused on irrigation. Dr. Lund liked the idea and the wheels were set in motion to bring the idea to fruition. At this time, the high school and the technical college had the same board overseeing both. An opportunity to buy land became available in March 1968 from Raymond and Martha Larson, and the board made the unanimous decision to purchase what is now known as the Ag and Energy Center. The high school owned the property and the college operated the farmland.
In the 1980s, the college and high school each had their own board, and the Ag and Energy Center land was transferred to the college. Then, in 1995, there was concern over the college and university merger that was put into motion by the legislature and how the land would be treated in the new MNSCU system. There was an attempt to move the research farm to the University of Minnesota at this time, but that attempt failed. The decision was made to move the farm land back to high school ownership with the college renting the land from the high school through a long-term agreement. The college maintained the 10 acre building site and the other 320 acres was transferred back to the high school.
Who are we?
The farm was originally started as a research and demonstration farm for irrigation named CMDRIF, Central Minnesota Demonstration and Research Irrigation Farm. The farm began to demonstrate and research irrigation becoming the region’s irrigation catalyst and expanding the use of this critical management tool. This significantly impacted farmers in the area that began to implement these practices within their own farming operations. Research and experimentation was a key factor in introducing new crops such as edible beans. The farm has evolved to be the Ag and Energy Center and still strives to be a catalyst for agriculture research and demonstration in the coarse, sandy plains of Minnesota.
What do we do?
Currently, the Ag and Energy Center operates around 2,000 acres under research and crop production. The main crops include corn (522), soybeans (859), barley (321), and edible beans (238). Many of these acres include research tied into fields such as cover crops, water management, and nutrient/fertilization management. There are 87 acres that are dedicated solely to research plots located at the farm site across from the main Staples college campus. Research projects are conducted in partnership with many industry and public educational institutes.
How do I set up a tour?
Please contact our main office 218-894-5141 to set up a tour. Tour options include a history of the Ag Center that has been in operation for 50 years, an overview of current research projects, a walk through the vibrant Living Legacy Gardens, horticultural demonstrations, drone flights or workshops, and equipment ride and drive of John Deere tillage, planting, and harvest equipment.