Catching Up with CALS — Aug. 7, 2019
Dean's Message — Seeing Results
A crowd showed up for Saturday’s hard hat tour of the new lecture hall and office building at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center near Salmon.
Progress on the new building has outpaced the construction schedule and that means we may be able to move in this fall, a month or more ahead of plans, if the pace continues.
It is nice to have a tangible reminder of the progress we’re making as a college on creating updated facilities for students, faculty and the public. As our central focus for cow-calf research in support of the beef industry, the Cummings Center will pay dividends to the state for years to come.
This week will be a full one, with the Idaho Milk Processors Association annual meeting in Sun Valley. We will deliver some promising updates on our efforts to make the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment a reality.
Work on an ambitious soil sampling program is already under way. We want to know what we can about the soil on our new property near Rupert that will house the new 2,000-cow dairy. Thousands of soil samples gathered now, five years before we anticipate milking our first cows, will help us establish a baseline.
Ultimately, we look at the dairy site as the focus for a 30- or 50-year research project to document and understand what happens in the soil as dairying takes place.
The information will help us improve farming methods to boost soil fertility.
We can also offer an update on the university’s purchase of 6 acres at Crossroads Point Business Park from owner Arlen B. Crouch at a discounted price. The new site at the intersection of Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 93, offers a prime location for the CAFE Discovery Complex.
The site will provide faculty offices and student facilities for those who will work and learn at the dairy. The high visibility site also will allow us to tell the story of Idaho agriculture with a diverse array of partners.
New U of I President Scott Green will meet with the group for the first time, too.
He and I will connect at Rinker Rock Creek Ranch along with College of Natural Resources Dean Dennis Becker. I am confident our travels will give President Green a better feel for why agriculture and natural resources are so central to Idaho and our mission.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
290,000 cattle were on feed in feedlots with 1,000 or more cattle in Idaho as of July 1. That’s 121 percent of the 240,000 cattle on feed July 1, 2018, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Idaho’s cattle inventory growth outpaced both neighboring Washington, which grew by 2 percent, and the nation’s 2 percent. Idaho put 2,000 or 5 percent more cattle on feed for a total of 42,000 and marketed 18 percent fewer cattle during June 2019 compared to June 2018.
Our Stories — CAFE Gains Ground by Jerome
The Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) advanced another major step this month with the acquisition of a site for an education and outreach complex at the Crossroads Point Business Center near Jerome.
The 6 acres purchased by the U of I is located in Jerome County along U.S. Highway 93 and north of the intersection of Interstate 84. The property will accommodate a public visitor center, faculty offices, laboratories, classrooms and housing linked to CAFE.
“This purchase marks an important advance in realizing the overall goal of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment,” said CALS Dean Michael P. Parrella. “CAFE will help Idaho’s important dairy industry, and the broader agricultural and business communities in the state by improving their sustainability so they remain a vital foundation of Idaho’s economy.”
The acquisition is the second major step this year toward realizing the creation of the nation’s largest research dairy. U of I and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association purchased property from the Whitesides family in February that will serve as the location for a 2,000-cow research dairy. That property is near Rupert in Minidoka County.
Plans call for the CAFE Discovery Complex to partner with collaborating organizations to tell the story of Idaho agriculture. The plan was endorsed by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Jerome 20/20 and other groups.
Jerome County officials and agricultural interests have long sought greater university involvement in the region’s vital dairy industry. The energy and leadership provided by Jerome 20/20 has been extraordinary and valued, Parrella said.
Arlen B. Crouch, owner of the Crossroads Business Center, looks forward to future development of the site.
“We are excited by this commitment from U of I to expand both its research and education opportunities here, and to help our region tell the story of agriculture, our most dynamic economic force,” Crouch said.
The Idaho State Board of Education previously approved the sale, which closed in mid-July.
Another major component of the Idaho CAFE project will involve enhanced food processing education and research opportunities in the Magic Valley in a partnership with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
More information on the project is available at www.uidaho.edu/cafe.
Students' Water Plan Wins UNA Honor
A team of four CALS agricultural economics students from Africa, Asia and Idaho collaborated to create a proposal to make drinking water safer and easier to access in the world’s poorest places.
Reviewers said the team’s ideas were innovative and possible, enough so that the U of I students won the inaugural United Nations Association-U.S.A. case competition that sought solutions to water scarcity and safety, a major global issue.
As the winner, the team’s proposal will be submitted to the UN special rapporteur for clean water and will be featured on the association’s website.
Evelyn Lemgo of Ghana, Koroles Awad of Egypt, Roshan Puri of Nepal and Kelton Hunter of Hayden, Idaho, made up the team. Alex Maas, an assistant professor of agricultural economics and rural sociology, advised the team.
The team’s proposal called for using a solar-powered, direct-pay system to provide clean, safe drinking water on demand to rural communities in India. The users would pay a small fee, most of which would be used to maintain existing pumps and expand the system.
India became the team’s focus because it has one of the largest, fastest growing populations. Despite India’s $2 billion a year investment in water supply infrastructure, inefficiency and the massive scale hinder progress.
The problem reaches beyond India and is expected to get worse, the CALS students wrote. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide now lack access to improved water sources. By 2025, the World Health Organization predicts half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas.
The student team drew its inspiration from a similar system by a startup African company called eWater Pay. The company develops solar-powered well and taps that are connected to the internet and powered by solar panels. Individuals pay with smart cards.
Communities decide how many pumps they can support. Users, mostly women and children who must spend as long as two hours daily collecting and hauling water for household use, pay a few cents. The annual cost is about $6 to $9 per year per user, well below the World Health Organization’s 3 percent water-cost goal for people who live on $1 a day.
The students said their proposed Aqua Pay system would help rural Indian communities reduce water stress and offer them incentive and opportunity to provide people with clean, safe water to improve health. That would allow residents to focus more time on trades and other economic activity.
Rural India could benefit because statistics show 78 percent of the world’s poorest people live there. The lack of clean, safe, affordable water robs residents of economic opportunities to improve their lives, a UN sustainable development goal.
Faces and Places
Nora Olsen received the Potato Association of America’s highest individual award, an Honorary Lifetime Membership, during the group’s annual meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
AVS student Kaylee Day won a $5,000 stipend from the U of I Office of Undergraduate Research. She reported on her work studying the feeding behavior of growing dairy heifers fed a modified lignin product as a feed binder. She continues to work on the topic and hopes to present additional findings at a regional animal science conference in Boise and national conference in Florida in June.
- Sept. 6 — Pomology Field Day, Parma Research and Extension Center orchards and vineyards, 31727 Parma Rd, Parma, ID 83660, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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