Directions: Go 4 miles east of Castana on County Road E-34.
Western Research Farm
36515 Hwy E34
Castana, IA 51010
click here for a map view
Western Iowa Experimental Farm Association
Alternative swine production techniques are studied at the research farm.
The association purchased the farm in 1946. In 2002, an additional 40 acres was given to the farm.
Gently sloping ridges and steep side slopes that gradually change to well-defined valleys characterize this region. Sloping soils are very erosive and require terracing, contouring and other conservation practices. Predominant soils are:
6-30 percent slope, well drained, occurs on narrow divides and steep side slopes
5-14 percent slope, well drained, occurs on ridges and s strongly sloping side slopes
Grazing beef cattle are fed condensed distillers solubles or syrup on research paddocks at the research farm.
Swine. Research focuses on alternative pig production. The ISU Hoop Research Complex is located at the farm. Studies on animal density, pork quality, alternative feeds and wean-to-finish approaches are conducted with finishing pigs. Researchers include scientists from veterinary medicine and animal behavior.
Forage. Researchers are studying the possibility of improving the productivity of warm-season pastures. Researchers evaluate livestock performance on this pasture and in intensive rotational grazing systems to develop site-specific recommendations for the establishment and management of productive summer pastures in western Iowa.
The farm staff helps with research projects in area farmers’ fields.
The loess hills are an ideal site for studying Iowa’s native prairie plants. Research plots of native species are shown.
Extensive pastures support grazing and forage studies. Deep-bedded hoop structures are used in the alternative swine production project. The Hoop Research Complex consists of three full-sized hoop barns that hold 150 finishing hogs each and three smaller research hoop barns equipped with pens for 10 pigs each.