E.V. Smith Research Center
Located on Interstate 85 between Auburn and Montgomery, E.V. Smith Research Center is the most visible agricultural facility in Alabama. The only facility named for a former AAES director—Edwin V. Smith who served at Auburn from 1929 to 1972—it is also the largest and most comprehensive with research units in beef cattle, horticulture, plant breeding, field crops and biosystems engineering.
Current Research Updates
- Field Crops Unit: Cover crops and residual herbicides are being evaluated to determine their effectiveness in controlling Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, in row crops. Palmer amaranth has spread rapidly throughout the Southeast and now covers most Alabama counties. This weed decreases crop yields by shading with its larger canopy and robbing crops of nutrients with its massive root systems. Research is focusing on the timing of herbicide applications—before the weed outgrows the row crop—and using irrigation to activate new residual herbicides at the most critical times.
- Plant Breeding Unit: Multiple strategies are being evaluated to prevent yield loss in cotton from the nematode/Fusarium wilt complex, including host-plant resistance, seed treatments and in-furrow nematicide applications, alone or in combination.
- Horticulture Unit: Pecan cultivars are being evaluated for resistance to pecan scab under high- and low-intensity management strategies. Pecan scab is the most economically damaging disease of pecans in the Southeast U.S. The disease affects stem, leaf and nut growth, reducing yield and nut quality. The cost of chemical disease control reduces the profitability of growing pecans, and the fungus is becoming resistant to some of the chemicals used to control it. Several scab-resistant cultivars suitable for both commercial orchards and homeowners have been identified by this program and are currently being recommended.
- Biosystems Engineering Unit: Variable-rate irrigation in corn production is showing promise as a more efficient means of watering crops. Currently, there are limited recommendations for Alabama soils for irrigation timing and rates. An increase in irrigated cropland in the state along with the potential for water-use regulations make efficiency a necessity for producers. Early results from this study indicate possible yield reductions due to overwatering and a reduction in total water needed for similar yields using sensor-based technology versus the conventional checkbook method for irrigation scheduling.
- Beef Unit: High-moisture forages are being studied for their usefulness in preconditioning beef calves. This work includes identifying best management practices for forages, in addition to forage and nutritional strategies for beef cattle to help make research-based management recommendations for producers. With more than 1.2 million cattle and calves in Alabama, small increases in weight gain, feed efficiency and forage utilization will have tremendous impacts.