Go to Colorado State University

Home / Publications / Annual Accomplishments Report

2010 CSREES Colorado State University
Combined Research and Extension
Annual Report of Accomplishments and Results

The Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) and Extension at Colorado State University are committed to excellence in basic and applied research and translation of this research through Extension programs to crop (including ornamental) and animal (including equine) agriculture. Extension continues to emphasize non-formal education and transfer of knowledge to audiences throughout the state, based on research information from the AES, the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Applied Human Sciences, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources. Programs emphasize best management practices in addressing issues that affect Coloradans. Five headings are used to organize this summary for Colorado programs:

  • Program Goals
  • Extension, AES, or Integrated
  • New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities
  • Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs
  • Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives

4-H Youth Development

Program Goals: 4-H affects positive change in life skills (including leadership, citizenship, decision making, and communication) and in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) -- including interest, knowledge, and application of science process skills -- for youth ages 5 to 18.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Extension

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: STEM priority benefits from available and developing content and resource support from National 4-H Headquarters, Colorado State University, Extension, and county partners.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: Colorado State University Extension reaches Colorado's K-12 youth through 4-H youth development programs in 4-H clubs, after-school and school enrichment. Development of volunteers who provide much of the leadership for 4-H, and private fund raising are associated activities. 4-H Youth Development emphasizes personal growth of young people through experiential learning with well-designed curricula and projects.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: Most 4-H Youth Development programs, while focusing on youth development, are built around content that may be supported by one or more college-based specialists.

Strong Families, Healthy Homes

Program Goals: Family Economic Stability programs affect positive change in participants' financial knowledge and skills, contributing to their ability to avoid bankruptcy, economic crisis, loss of jobs, and other money-related difficulties. AgrAbility programs help farmers avoid accidents and reduce the incidence of serious injury and disability.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Extension

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: DollarWorks2

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: Family and Consumer Science (FCS) programs are experiencing change, driven by a need to focus expertise and programs that are available to meet the needs of Coloradoans. CSU Extension programs now seek to provide applied research and Extension education in a coordinated set of programs related to nutrition and health, food safety, and family economic stability. Financial stability of families is the area of focus for non-nutrition FCS programming. Colorado families' financial instability includes increasing rates of bankruptcy, economic crises and loss of jobs. Working in partnership with state and nongovernmental agencies, agents deliver DollarWorks2 and other curricula relevant to individuals and families in difficult economic times. A content specialist started January 3, 2011, to support this work. Work teams in parenting and healthy homes have been suspended in order to keep attention on the three determined focus areas for programming. AgrAbility programming continues.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: Consumer economics is a vehicle that can assist 4-H in reaching STEM targets.

Nutrition and Food Safety

Program Goals: Reduced incidence of chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer), thus reducing health insurance premiums and mortality rates, and increasing employee productivity. Food Safety programs will reduce the economic burden and human suffering that can be caused by food-borne illness in the US.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Integrated

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: The Health Promotions and Disease Prevention Work Team provides research-based nutrition and health education to a variety of audiences across Colorado in an effort to promote healthful nutrition, activity and lifestyle behaviors. Food Safety is now structured as a stand-alone Extension Work Team in order to more fully address the NIFA priority. Food Safety research and education may be integrated into other Work Teams so that they are not limited to program delivery by FCS agents, but rather viewed as integral in many aspects of AES and Extension outreach.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: These work teams participated in the FCS focusing activity in June, 2009, and have specific outcome targets and indicators by which they collect their statewide data. Food Safety indicators, including effective hand washing, safe food preservation, and proper food temperature, are addressed through these activities:

  • Food safety training for food service managers and employees;
  • Food safety education for high risk audiences, their caregivers, and health care professionals;
  • Food safety information for consumers including Farmers' Market vendors and their customers.
    Indicators for Nutrition and Health include:
  • Consumption of fruits and vegetables;
  • Consumption of calcium-rich foods;
  • Physical activity.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: AES food safety research emphasizes pre-harvest management of livestock to prevent transmission of human pathogens in livestock production and handling and post-harvest detection and management systems to prevent contamination of meat and plant products with human pathogens. The AES research program in human nutrition focuses on basic research to understand:

  • the interrelationships between nutrition, exercise, and human health, and
  • the basic biochemistry of human nutrition.

Animal Production Systems

Program Goals: Adoption of improved crop production technologies, wheat cultivars and productive and sustainable agriculture systems will assure communities, families, and individuals have enough food to eat, and that hunger is not a factor in their well-being.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Integrated

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities:

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: AES focuses on fundamental and applied research in breeding, nutrition, physiology, behavior, integrated resource management systems, economics, health, and range/forage management. Extension outreach spans the breadth of the topics of research to assure that industry participants have practical knowledge in modern beef, dairy, and sheep production systems, biosecurity, economic and risk management, and response to policy and consumer changes. Outreach to youth involved in livestock production and judging events continues as part of experiential learning in 4-H, FFA, and college judging. Producers realize increased prices and lower cost of production. Consumers benefit from higher human nutritional values of food. The beef cattle selection decision support system is intended for use by beef cattle producers to simplify selection and purchase of breeding animals by evaluating potential replacement animals on expected profitability of their offspring. This system of development is predicated on complaints by many breeders who felt overwhelmed by amount of information available on animals with which to make selection decisions. This system has the potential to have a large influence on profitability of beef production. If bulls are used for 3 breeding seasons with an average of 25 offspring produced per season, each of these 10,000 bulls would produce a total of 75 offspring. If the system yields only an average of $10 more profit per progeny produced, the economic result for participating associations and breeders would be approximately $7 million in profit.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: Global Food Security and Hunger work, of necessity, includes animal and plant production systems and integrates Extension education in disseminating research results. CSU Extension & Research:

  • Conduct basic and applied research in animal productions systems;
  • Delivers workshops and educational classes for producers;
  • Communicates results through demonstrations and field days;
  • Provide individual counseling for producers and clientele on specific animal production problems.

Plant Production Systems

Program Goals: Adoption of improved crop production technologies, wheat cultivars and productive and sustainable agriculture systems will assure communities, families, and individuals have enough food to eat, and that hunger is not a factor in their well-being.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Integrated

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: The AES research program in human nutrition focuses on basic research to understand:

  • the interactions between plant composition and human health;
  • the interrelationships between nutrition, exercise, and human health; and
  • the basic biochemistry of human nutrition.

Molecular biology and genomics will open new pathways for crop plant improvement and pest management that support economic development, enhance human health through more nutritious and safer food products, and find fundamental solutions through renewable and sustainable crop production and pest management. Research in plant production systems will inform Extension activities and programs as CSU contributes to solving the dilemmas inherent in the Global Food Security & Hunger NIFA priority.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: AES focuses on fundamental and applied research in breeding, nutrition, physiology, behavior, integrated resource management systems, economics, health, and range/forage management. Extension outreach spans the breadth of the topics of research to assure that industry participants have practical knowledge in modern plant, beef, dairy, and sheep production systems, biosecurity, economic and risk management, and response to policy and consumer changes. Crop production in the state benefits from AES and Extension through improved crops which resist environmental and biological pests. Producers realize increased prices and lower cost of production. Consumers benefit from higher human nutritional values of food.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: Global Food Security and Hunger work, of necessity, includes animal and plant production systems and integrates Extension education in disseminating research results. CSU Extension and Research:

  • Conduct basic and applied research in plant production systems;
  • Deliver workshops and educational classes for producers;
  • Communicates results through demonstration plots and field days;
  • Provides individual counseling for producers and clientele on specific plant production problems.

'Wheat Improvement' is a well-organized and highly-functioning Extension work team that maintains its structure and contributes to the NIFA priority goal of global food security. Since inception of the program in 1963, the CSU Wheat Breeding Program has released over 29 improved wheat cultivars. CSUbred wheat cultivars account for over 60% (or 72% of the accounted-for acreage) of Colorado's 2.45 million acres (2010 crop) with the remaining acreage planted mostly with cultivars from university breeding programs in adjacent states. Since inception of the program, average wheat grain yields in Colorado have more than doubled with at least 50% of this increase attributed to improved cultivars. While the value of these yield increases varies according to market prices, estimates of economic returns from two of our most widely grown releases (Hatcher and Ripper) are approximately $32.3 million for the 2010 crop alone (estimaged $21.9 million for yield improvement and $10.3 million for quality improvement). As a whole, estimates from Colorado wheat industry leaders on CSU-developed quality improvements suggest that end-use quality enhancements from cultivars developed at CSU provide an average of $17.5 million per year increased income for Colorado wheat producers (70 million bushels average x $0.25 per bushel price increase; 2010 dollars).

Since 1975, there have been 27 potato cultivars/clonal selections released by Colorado State University or in cooperation with other agencies. Colorado State University releases accounted for 59% of the 55,500 acres planted to fall potatoes in Colorado in 2010. Colorado cultivars and clonal selections accounted for 44% of the 12,053 acres of Colorado certified seed accepted for certification in 2010. Advanced Colorado selections accounted for another 1% of the seed acreage. Three of the top 10 russet cultivars grown for seed in the U.S. [Canela Russet (#7), Rio Grande Russet (#8), Russet Norkotah-S3 (#9) in 2009 were developed by the Colorado program. Also for reds Sangre-S11 ranked #7. For coloredfleshed specialties, Mountain Rose and Purple Majesty both ranked #1 among red- and purple-fleshed cultivars.

Demand for organic vegetable seed is growing rapidly as the USDA National Organic Program requires organic farmers to use certified organic seed when available. With this potential, there is an opportunity to re-establish the seed production industry in the Arkansas Valley in Colorado. A study was conducted to characterize the fresh market and seed yield response of organically-grown watermelon (Crimson Sweet) to different mulching methods. Gross returns without plasticulture average $3000 per acre. With plasticulture, gross returns reach $6000 per acre with approximately $200 additional cost for plastic or a net marginal income increase of $2800 per acre.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: As recommended by NIFA reviewers, CSU Extension's Work Teams for animal production, and plant production systems work teams are considering combining under the goal of global food security.

Natural Resources and Environment

Program Goals: Programs sustain and/or improve the quality and quantity of Colorado's natural resources and environment.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Integrated

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: The US Census of Agriculture reports decreasing numbers of mid- and large-sized farms and a significant increase in the number of small farms. Small acreage owners/operators frequently may not possess much agricultural or business knowledge. AES and Extension address the needs of small acreage producers and work with agricultural industry personnel and governmental agencies to assure that land managers and communities can evaluate a broad range of opportunities to enhance viability while respecting the environment.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: AES and Extension programs address the growing competition for finite water, land, and air resources in a state with a growing human population by:

  • educating agricultural and resource industry professionals;
  • researching technical and economic issues related to improved resource utilization; and
  • enhancing international competitiveness.

Intensive dryland cropping systems build soil organic carbon, improve soil quality, and improve both air and surface water quality because they provide high amounts of year around cover. These benefits have been realized for about 1,500,000 acres in CO that have been converted from wheat-fallow to wheatsummer crop-fallow. This conversion increased net return by $22,275,000 per year under normal precipitation conditions. Limited irrigation cropping systems based on conservation tillage practices demonstrated in this project build soil organic carbon, improve soil quality, and improve both air and surface water quality because they provide high amounts of year around cover. These benefits have the potential to affect as much as 2,000,000 acres in CO. Survey results from this project document that irrigated farmers in the South Platte River Basin have a willingness to adopt limited irrigation cropping systems and that there will be adequate water savings to meet projected urban water demand through water lease arrangements.

The Arikaree River, on the eastern plains of Colorado, is fed by the High Plains Aquifer and provides both unique habitat for the endangered fish species and irrigation water for agricultural production. Research has shown that the aquifer has been declining at approximately 0.25 m/year throughout the region and in some locations, it is dropping at 0.58 m/year based on farmer observations. A water conservation survey was distributed to farmers in Eastern Colorado (predominately in Yuma County) to identify the top three conservation alternatives in each section. The water conservation sections were field practices, irrigation practices, management practices, programs, and conversion to less water consumptive crops. A numerical water balance model of the alluvial aquifer-stream system was developed to link groundwater to pool depths in the Arikaree River. The calculations show that the river is at a critical point for preservation and could go dry in the next 8 to 12 years with no changes to the current pumping. This research shows that to maintain the current HPA water levels and alluvial aquifer, it would require 77% participation in the water conservation programs or reduction of at least 44.8 million cubic meters of irrigation pumping.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: Nutrient management and odor and dust control.

Community Resource Development (CRD)

Program Goals: CRD Programs provide tools so that citizens can make informed decisions to increase tax revenues, maintain and/or increase employment, and maintain and/or grow valued community resources.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Extension

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: Community Resource Development (CRD), and its partner, Economic Development, are highlighted by the Vice President for Engagement and Director of Extension.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: Colorado communities are changing rapidly as a result of many factors, including loss of agricultural water, influx of retirement populations, development of gas and oil industries, incidence of military deployment, and changes in cultural background of residents. Communities struggle to develop and maintain resources: human, financial, physical, social, environmental, and political. They also are challenged to provide the organizational capacity to assess, plan, and implement activities to address resource development and management. These issues especially are acute in smaller rural communities. Colorado's rural communities are relatively unique in terms of sparse populations, a high natural amenity and public lands base, a transitory population, and relatively low public service provision. Communities require knowledge to evaluate their resource base, their economic and social service alternatives, and their futures.

Statewide population in Colorado is forecasted to more than double over the next 50 years. The state of Colorado is currently trying to determine how best to meet the water needs of future residents. Water conservation and the reallocation of water from Ag to municipal uses are the two most likely candidates for meeting new demands. Project activities focused on developing a better understanding of how to successfully design alternative market-based instruments which allow for the reallocation of water from ag to urban uses without the negative side effects associated with traditional "buy and dry" methods. Results from an experimental water market suggest that while the introduction of active water leasing markets will result in more water in agriculture, it may make irrigators worse off. These results directly address questions/concerns raised by irrigators about participating in water leasing. These results were communicated to state officials, who indicated they will incorporate these findings into future discussions regarding the design of alternative institutions. The results provide insight into why many in irrigated agriculture are reluctant to participate in alternatives to traditional water rights transfers.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: CRD technologies will be provided through training and technical assistance to Extension agents, as the system views CRD as a process rather than an issue. The goal is to intentionally integrate CRD into all issues work.

Clean Energy Strategic Initiative

Program Goals: Diffuse and adopt renewable energy sources and sustainable practices that reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy through public knowledge of energy efficiency and clean energy options.

Extension, AES, or Integrated: Extension

New Programs, and/or Addressing NIFA Priorities: Clean energy interests and efforts were organized as an Extension 'strategic initiative team' in fall, 2008. Progress by the team is reflected in showing the work as a planned program, and including it in the Program Leadership Team as a Program Area. While not all clean energy is sustainable, it is an area of high interest to county partners, as documented by a search of county priorities on Web sites throughout the state. The Work Team's objective is to educate a core group of Extension agents about renewable energy options and energy efficiency, and to broadly educate all Extension agents on the basics of renewable energy. Deliverables include:

  • demonstration sites;
  • short term classes;
  • partnerships with campus faculty;
  • green jobs programs for schools;
  • school enrichment materials using STEM-based standards.

Ongoing, Consistent, and/or Successful Programs: The long range intention is that Extension will be considered the educational entity of choice in the area of clean energy. These activities and intentions are recognized as outputs, as the planned program is very new and not fully resourced. The Work Team will create its Logic Model and articulate outcomes for the immediate, short, and long term.

Cross-cutting or Cross-disciplinary Initiatives: A newly hired Clean Energy Specialist can more effectively connect Extension's clean energy efforts with multiple research and teaching opportunities that are ongoing in several colleges on campus.


121 Shepardson Building
Colorado State University
3001 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-3001

College of Agricultural Sciences
Contact Colorado County Extension offices
Contact CSU | Disclaimer | Equal Opportunity | Privacy Statement

phone: (970) 491-5371
fax: (970) 491-4895
e-mail CAES
send web comments
Banner Images: William A. Cotton, Communication Production & Creative Services Updated:   October 27, 2011, 01:01:31 PM