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Daniel Rivera Named Southwest Research and Extension Center Director

By Fred Miller U of A System Division of Agriculture, 04/6/21 10:24 AM

HOPE — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has appointed Daniel Rivera director of the Southwest Research and Extension Center.

Daniel Rivera
INCOMING — Daniel Rivera, a beef cattle nutrition scientist from Mississippi State University, has been appointed director of the Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope. (Photo submitted)

SWREC is a 1,185-acre laboratory near Hope in Hempstead County. The center provides field and laboratory resources for research and extension programs in beef cattle production, forestry, horticulture and plant pathology. It is one of five Division of Agriculture research and extension centers located around the state

“I love all agricultural sciences, and I want to learn more about all these programs,” Rivera said. “My biggest challenge in the first six months at the center will be to learn the lay of the land with the goal of helping the faculty and staff at the center achieve their research goals.”

“We’re pleased to have Dr. Rivera as director of the Southwest Research and Extension Center,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture.

“Daniel brings a host of research and extension experience to the center,” Cochran said. “He will be carrying on his own research while directing the resources and personnel that help make sure our scientists can address the needs of southwest Arkansas farmers who provide food, fiber and bioenergy crops.”

Rivera comes to Arkansas from Mississippi State University, where he held research and extension appointments at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station at Poplarville. He had joint appointments with Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center, Biloxi, and the department of animal and dairy science at Mississippi State University, Starkville. His research and extension specialties were in beef cattle production and nutrition.

Rivera also has a research appointment with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the Division of Agriculture’s research arm, and will continue his research program at SWREC. He conducts applied research in the interactions of production, management and nutrition in growing beef cattle. His work will focus on the nutrition, growth and development of stocker cattle.

“I would like to implement a program to develop more strategic nutrient management in cattle,” he said.

A lot of forage crops require fertilizer to meet the nutritional needs of beef cattle, and that’s an expensive input, Rivera said. “I want to investigate reducing fertilizer use and using that cost-saving for protein and energy supplements. I want to see if it improves feed use efficiency in a way that also enhances economic returns.

“Research results have to make economic sense for the farmer,” he said. “I’m interested in projects that explore options to improve returns on investment.”

Before joining Mississippi State, Rivera worked in private industry as a technical services manager and nutritionist for Ranch-Way Feeds in Fort Collins, Colorado, from 2006 to 2008. Before that, he was a senior beef cattle technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health Mexico, Monterrey, Mexico.

Rivera was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and grew up near Belen, New Mexico. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University, a master’s degree from West Texas A&M University and a doctorate from New Mexico State.

Arkansas’ diverse geography and the central role of agriculture in the state’s culture and economy contribute to Rivera’s enthusiasm for joining the Division of Agriculture, he said. And moving to Arkansas was a popular decision in his family. His wife, Beth, and three children — John, 16, Andrew, 14, and Celina, 7 — are ready to arrive here in May.

“My wife and kids are all excited about the move and being here,” Rivera said.