Montana Agricultural Experiment Station Appoints New Eastern Agricultural Research Center Superintendent


Chengci Chen

Montana State University officials announced this week that Chengci Chen, professor of cropping systems for the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) and MSU College of Agriculture, has been appointed the new superintendent of the Eastern Agricultural Research Center (EARC) in Sidney.

As superintendent, Chen will be responsible for management of the center's irrigated and dryland farming research profile, including research on sugar beets, barley, durum, winter and spring wheat, oil seeds and pulse crops, including peas, lentils and chickpeas. EARC is located in the Northern Great Plains region that largely encompasses eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The area's primary agricultural commodities are spring and durum wheat, pulse crops, alfalfa, sugar beets and beef cattle.

The center encompasses a new office and research facility built in 2011 that includes two state-of-the-art greenhouses with computer-controlled heating, cooling and lighting and two new labs. The center's grounds also include 135 irrigated acres and 40 dryland acres for joint MAES and U.S. Department of Agriculture research programs.

Chen will replace Joyce Eckhoff, EARC interim superintendent, who has been with MAES as a professor of agronomy for the last 28 years and will retire on May 15. Chen will officially begin his new role on May 4.

Chen received his Ph.D. in soil science from Oregon State University and holds two master's degrees in soil physics and plant-water relations, one from Oregon State University and a second from Beijing Agricultural University. Chen has been a professor of cropping systems with the Central Agricultural Research Center in Moccasin since 2002.

Chen is one of several MAES faculty scientists supporting the current rise of pulse crop production in Montana, according to Barry Jacobsen, department head of MAES research centers.

"Chengci is one of the leaders in introducing pulse crops into Montana cropping systems, and he has experience in both irrigated and dryland agriculture," Jacobsen said. "He will be a terrific supervisor for EARC."

MAES includes the MSU campus in Bozeman and seven off-campus research centers located throughout the state in Sidney, Moccasin, Huntley, Conrad, Havre, Kalispell and Corvallis. Collectively, the centers conduct research to address the diverse climatological challenges of Montana's agricultural industry. More information is available online at


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