The Caldwell Research and Extension Center is located in downtown Caldwell and is operated by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences through the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station.
Major research and extension programs are conducted on beef science, dairy science, range economics and 4-H youth development.
The Caldwell Research and Extension Center is the oldest off-campus unit of the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station, in continuous operation since its establishment in 1906. Elias Nelson, an irrigationist, arrived in 1905 and was the first individual at the station. He was followed in 1906 by L. C. Aicher, an agronomist and superintendent.
Prior to November 2006, the center consisted of 320 acres south of Caldwell. About 240 acres were farmed each year, producing feed for livestock research and Extension programs. Crops grown included alfalfa hay, grain and corn silage.
In November 2006, the faculty and staff were relocated to the University of Idaho’s Caldwell Complex in downtown Caldwell. Also housed at the complex are the UI Agribusiness Incubator and Food Technology Center.
Over the years, the center has responded to the Treasure Valley’s changing agricultural needs with research and Extension work that focused at first on crops and irrigation, then expanded to dairy, swine, beef and sheep production.
Working together with the agricultural community, the university has improved production practices and made it possible for area producers to better withstand the economic downturns, droughts, fires and infestations the last 100 years have brought.
The center was originally established to study the slick or alkali spots prevalent in the area south of Caldwell. The slick spots — areas of clay that pack tight — do not allow crops to grow. Research on the slick spots indicated a need for animal manure as a cure for these problems. In response, a dairy cattle program was established to provide manure for the agronomic research.
Dairy research was fully established in 1914 under the direction of O. D. Center. Discontinued a few years later, the dairy work was reinstated in 1945 at the request of the dairy industry. During the 1960s the dairy research program was moved to the Moscow campus.
A swine program began at the center in 1916. It was later discontinued, but in 1960 a swine testing program was developed in cooperation with the Idaho Swine Growers.
Cattle feeding research was initiated in 1919 by J. E. Norby. Nutrition research and beef cattle management were conducted until 2002 and were the main emphases of the center for 20 years. Much of the early research on feeding potatoes to beef cattle was conducted at the center.
Sheep research was initiated in 1920 by Dave Stubblefield. Much of this work was continued under the direction of Reuben Johnson during the time he was superintendent. The sheep work continued until 1976, when it followed J. J. Dahmen’s transfer to the Moscow campus.