Responding to the Needs of Kentucky Producers

A generation ago, Western Kentuckians led the effort to create the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center (UKREC) in Princeton and the infrastructure that houses people committed to the science of production agriculture. Those stakeholders had faith the land-grant university could help improve agriculture and their lives. 

Since then, Kentucky producers have relied on UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment experts to help them tackle difficult problems and maximize their profits. Grains and forages are important drivers of Kentucky’s economy. In 2014, corn, soybeans and wheat generated about $2.2 billion in Kentucky, employed over 26,000 people in production and allied industries, and boosted the 2013 labor-income value by $42.5 million. Forages cover more than 6 million acres and are used to feed livestock and horses, industries valued at another $2 billion in receipts each year.

Today, a new generation of agricultural leaders have the same beliefs in the land-grant system but are faced with new challenges of using current resources to feed a growing world population with consideration to the environment, particularly water quality. From those beliefs and needs, the idea of the Grain & Forage Center of Excellence emerged.


A primary goal of the Grain & Forage Center of Excellence is to help Kentucky farmers feed the world sustainably, protect the environment, expand the Kentucky economy and pass their farms to the next generation. 

Local Commitment, Global Impact

Few places in the world have Iowa's soils and climate. Many more regions have crop, soil and environmental challenges similar to those in Kentucky. The results of grains and forages research and extension programs at the Grain & Forage Center of Excellence will be applicable to a growing world and make a true global impact. 

In the 1960's farmers, first, and then scientists at the University of Kentucky began studying and implementing no-tillage practices. Those practices are widely adopted in Kentucky. Most of the crop-growing regions of Brazil and Argentina are no-tillage and attribute their adoption to the University of Kentucky.

The Forage Team at the University of Kentucky is recognized as a global leader in forage management, dating back to when KY-31 tall fescue became such a popular forage option.  

A Partnership Approach

The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board awarded UK a grant of $15 million toward the $30 million project. Now, UK must match the $15 million grant over the next five years. Thankfully, numerous producers, commodity organizations, related industries and government leaders share in this vision. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association purchased 294 acres of highly productive land adjacent to the UKREC that the university will lease. Other organizations such as the Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board, Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association and Kentucky Farm Bureau will help with the match by providing research grants and contracts to conduct research at the Center. While the University is extremely appreciative of these longstanding partnerships, it will need more to meet future demands and find solutions to future challenges.  

Recognizing that UK has a history of being at the forefront of crop technologies now widely adopted across the world, UK’s partners are dedicated to ensuring that the university’s grains and forages research and education programs continue to lead the way during this era of great agricultural challenges. We have a plan in place, but we need your help implementing that plan. 

Funding is provided in part from a grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.