Opened in 1976, the Sand Plain Research Farm at Becker, Minn., is affiliated with the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. Its primary mission is to conduct research on agronomic and horticultural crops under both irrigated and non-irrigated conditions.

Comprised of 285 acres directly north of Xcel Energy's Sherco coal-burning power plant some 45 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, the center leases the land from Xcel Energy to conduct agricultural and environmental research. The station provides labor, land and technical support for a large number of cooperating projects.

The station has five irrigation wells with a total pumping capacity of 1,300 gallons a minute. These wells are connected and pump irrigation water through a main line that consists of roughly 11,100 feet of 6- and 8-inch-diameter aluminum pipe; smaller pipe branches into about 45 acres where irrigation is needed. 

Our numerous research projects include field crops, horticulture plants and diseases, nutrient management, and soil health.

SPRF Irrigation & Nutrient Management Virtual Field Day

The SPRF will hold its Irrigation and Nutrient Management Field Day virtually on Thursday, August 27th from noon to 1:30. This webinar will highlight research taking place at the UMN Sand Plain Research Farm in Becker. Register now. This is a free webinar. Participants must have an email address and access to a computer, tablet or phone.

Presentations include:

  • Irrigation and Nitrogen management research projects for profitable corn production and groundwater quality protection - Vasudha Sharma, Assistant Extension Professor - Irrigation Specialist

  • GEMS Informatics: Soil to Satellite and Sensor to Supercomputer - Bryan Runck, researcher 

  • Enhancing soil health in irrigated potato cropping systems - Carl Rosen, Professor and Extension nutrient management specialist 

  • Lessons from current nitrogen management research projects in irrigated corn - Fabian Fernandez, Associate Professor and Extension soil fertility specialist 

  • Advancing Intensive Management of Continuous Corn on Irrigated Sands - Jeffrey Coulter, Professor and Extension agronomist