J. Phil Campbell Sr.
The J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Watkinsville, just outside of Athens-Clarke County, is the newest REC in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A former USDA-ARS research station, the 1055-acre facility was closed by USDA as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012. In the fall of 2013 the station was transferred to the CAES to be used for agricultural and natural resources research, instruction, and Extension. The facility's mission, "to develop and transfer environmentally sustainable and profitable agricultural systems to land owners and managers in order to protect the natural resource base, build accord with non-agricultural sectors, and support healthy rural economies," has not changed under CAES management.
The JPC-REC, previously known as the USDA-ARS J. Phil Campbell Sr. Natural Resource Conservation Center, has a long legacy of research on grazing land and cattle herd management, soil protection and carbon sequestration, water quality and conservation, animal and cropping systems, and integrated watershed research, among others. The CAES is committed to continuing and expanding this research legacy. In addition, the facility is ideally suited for teaching, Extension, and demonstration activities, such as the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Training Partnership. Similar to other Research and Education Centers in the CAES, the JPC-REC is being operated as a college-wide facility, with the superintendent reporting directly to the Office of the Associate Dean for Research at the Athens campus.
The JPC-REC encompasses 1055 acres, about 150 of which are currently suitable for arable crops. The majority of the remaining land area is in permanent pasture and forage production to support the station's 200 plus head of pure-bred Angus cattle. The land is divided among four units as follows: North Unit (296 acres), East Unit with station headquarters (253 acres), West Unit (254 acres), and South Unit (252 acres).
The JPC-REC houses some unique research infrastructure, including:
- Field-scale cropped and grazed watersheds for integrated watershed research.
- Set of 14 grazed micro-watersheds at Dawson field.
- Set of 12 water quality plots (30 m × 10 m) to monitor leachate and surface runoff.
- Set of 18 contiguous 1.8-acre fenced paddocks for replicated research on annual grazing systems.
- Set of 48 paired rainfall simulation (runoff) plots, each 0.75 × 2 m in size, surrounded by galvanized steel borders and equipped with stainless steel flumes.
- A 2.3-acre field that is certified organic and another 1.3-acre field that is currently in transition to organic crop production.