The Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center serves nearly 500,000 acres of irrigated agriculture in Oregon and Washington's Columbia Basin. The center concentrates on discovery and implementation of agricultural and horticultural opportunities and provides solutions to production restraints. Remodeled laboratories, state of the art greenhouses, and new and refurbished equipment provide station and campus scientists with a modern research facility. In 1991 growers, processors, and businesses of the region, through the efforts of the Blue Mountain Potato Growers Association, contributed four center pivot irrigation systems worth more than $150,000 making the center one of the few experiment stations in the U.S. with extensive modern irrigation capabilities. An additional center pivot system was added in 2005 through support of local agricultural interests. This center boasts greater research acreage under center pivot irrigation than any Experiment Station in the Pacific Norhtwest, possibly the west. In 2008 and 2009, two large screen houses were added to provide new opportunities to investigate insect transmitted plant diseases.
Currently HAREC has six research sub-units: cereal breeding, potato varietal development, horticultural production and quality, integrated pest management, enhancement of potato nutrition, and riparian and stream ecology; and two extension units: plant pathology/diagnostics and commodity-crops production and groundwater quality. Faculty cooperate with scientists in the Departments of Crop & Soil Science, Horticulture, Entomology, Botany & Plant Pathology, Food Science & Technology, BioResource Engineering, and the Integrated Plant Protection Center from OSU's main campus in Corvallis, OR. Cooperative research is conducted with faculty from other state experiment stations, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, University of Idaho, Washington State University, USDA, Oregon Deptarment of Fish and Wildlife, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Ag Canada. Funding to support research efforts originates from a large number of granting agencies, including private, state, and federal sources.
Research at HAREC emphasizes identification of new crops and production practices, plant breeding and varietal evaluation, integrated pest management of insects and insect transmitted diseases, plant disease control and riparian and stream ecology.
The Hermiston center has worked to identify adapted crops and develop production practices for the region. Research and extension strive to alleviate restraints to existing crop production and marketing. In recent years the center provided leadership, research, and knowledge essential to allow growers to diversify production and convert 30,000 acres of commodity crops to high-value crops. The leadership role of the station led to selection of value-added agriculture as the Morrow-Umatilla Regional Strategy. The strategy and associated activity have brought over $30,000,000 in processing plant construction to the area and over $50,000,000 in annual economic return.
One of the newer additions to the research effort is directed toward understanding the ecology of riparian and stream issues, particularly how agriculture interacts with stream health and the subsequent impact on salmonids. A better understanding of these issues will provide important opportunities in the future to improve stream conditions, where needed, not only for the benefit of fish but for all wildlife.
The most recent addition to the Center has been the addition of a molecular biologist with specific interest in helping to increase nutrients essential for human health in existing crops grown in this area.
See the Projects link on this website or see those listed in Oregon Invests for more information related to current research and extension projects at HAREC.