Photo illustration of the globe, with Fargo, North Dakota, U.S.A, and Osorno, Chile, marked, and a line connecting the two locations.

NDSU Develops Global Partnership in Chile

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A small seed of an idea was planted in 1998. The Potato Association of America’s 82nd Annual Meeting was held in Fargo, North Dakota, that year, and some researchers from the country of Chile were in attendance.  

After learning more about North Dakota State University’s potato research program, they went home with a vision for collaboration and knowledge exchange.  

Twenty-four years later that seed matured and on April 7, 2022, a collaborative agreement between the University of Los Lagos (ULAGOS) and NDSU was inaugurated at a ceremony on the ULAGOS campus. The agreement between the two universities marks a beginning of shared research, innovative learning opportunities and Extension outreach.  

“We believe local and global partnerships increase the opportunities and value we provide for our students, faculty, staff and stakeholders,” says Greg Lardy, NDSU vice-president for agricultural affairs. “We look forward to the exchange of information that will take place because of this partnership.”  

Gary Secor, NDSU Department of Plant Pathology professor, has led the facilitation of the agreement for NDSU.  

The agreement encourages:  

• Faculty mobility between the two universities  

• Joint research activities in agronomy and biotechnology  

• Participation in seminars and academic meetings  

• Exchange of academic materials  

• Special short-term academic programs and short courses  

• Development of academic courses and materials  

• Student mobility for research and study  

• Integration of activities with other regional agriculture institutions upon mutual agreement  

 “The general area of focus will be to strengthen capacities and broaden agricultural expertise for both parties, but not just in potato research,” explains Secor. “Technology, research, teaching and Extension activities centered around cereals, potatoes, pulse crops, canola, camelina, pasture management, beef cattle production and sustainable agriculture are all areas that we’d like to explore.”  

“Because North Dakota and southern Chile have similar climates, trialing of NDSU varieties of potato, soybean, wheat and canola is one of the highly anticipated projects,” says Secor. “These crops are used for salmon feed, as Chile is the world’s leading producer of farmed salmon.”  

In addition to the agreement, the ceremony also announced the beginning of a new agronomy major at ULAGOS. Using NDSU as the model for research, teaching and Extension outreach, ULAGOS has a vision to become the center of agriculture for the region, providing research data and recommendations to farmers and ranchers throughout southern Chile.  

“Researchers at ULAGOS are on the forefront of new technologies, specifically drone-application of fungicides,” says Secor. “So not only will NDSU faculty and staff share our knowledge, but we will bring back new ideas to NDSU as well.”  

“One of the goals of the new NDSU Agriculture Affairs Strategic Plan is to cultivate partnerships that meet the greatest needs of our students, faculty, staff and stakeholders,” says Sam Markell, NDSU Department of Plant Pathology professor and NDSU Agricultural Affairs strategic plan co-chair. “This agreement opens the door to many research, Extension and teaching opportunities, and will be an opportunity to experience a new country and culture.”  

“The Los Lagos region, where ULAGOS is located, has mountains, a temperate rainforest, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, hiking and abundant fishing,” says Secor. “These exchanges are designed to be inclusive and full of chances to experience the rich culture and flavor of Chile.”  

To kick-start the exchange of knowledge, a newly-hired research agronomist at ULAGOS will be visiting NDSU in June. Javier Hernandez is particularly interested in trialing NDSU spring wheat and non-GMO soybean varieties as a potential source of non-animal protein for the salmon industry. 

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Hernandez to campus this summer and look forward to our faculty and students visiting Chile as well,” says Secor. “I believe this is the start of a valuable partnership.”