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Finding solutions for growers through research and extension.

The University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center has a rich history of providing critical information to help growers across the state. While research and extension efforts are strong, much of the research infrastructure, lab space and equipment is over 50 years old. With additional support from Northwest FCS that’s about to change.

The new Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health at Parma will provide advanced technology to help researchers better diagnose issues and address grower concerns about soil health, pests and invasive species. A modern facility with more research and workspace will also help to attract (and retain) world-class faculty and graduate students. The opportunities made possible by this project will have lasting benefits for Idaho agriculture.

At its core, the Parma Center focuses on research to ensure healthy plants and soil. With the diversity of crops grown in the state, U of I researchers focus on traditional crops such as potatoes, sugar beets and cereal grains, in addition to specialty crops. A regional network of spore samplers, for example, is working to detect airborne diseases before they impact potatoes and other crops. Faster detection, collection and reporting provides early alerts to help growers manage impending pests and diseases.

The new Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health will also help researchers focus on specialty crops including tree fruit, table grapes and hops. Idaho ranks second in the nation for hop production with close to 8,500 acres in 2019, producing 17 million pounds worth $89 million.

More acreage means more knowledge is needed to stay ahead of pests and diseases along with best management practices for irrigation and soil health. Research is being done to focus on insecticide resistance in common pests found in both hops and alfalfa hay.

With additional funding from Northwest FCS, U of I has reached its private fundraising goal for the project. Private investments will match a $3 million investment from the state of Idaho and a $1 million investment from the university. With broad support from all facets of Idaho’s ag industry groundbreaking is planned for the spring of 2022.

Additional 2020 Investments in U of I Education and Research

Scholarships for College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Students: Increasing scholarships for students entering careers in ag and life sciences.

AgriBeef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard: Provides additional funding for the new AgriBeef Meat Science and Innovation Center.

Wayne Thiessen Potato Research Professorship Endowment Fund: Supports an endowed faculty position for a potato storage physiologist to meet industry and grower needs.

New Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences chapter: Provides three years of annual dues, expenses and event promotions to support a new MANRRS program.

Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE): Supports the nation’s largest research dairy in Idaho’s Magic Valley, to ensure future environmental, economic and social sustainability for the dairy industry.

“Strong support from Northwest Farm Credit is the epitome of the phrase, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ The intentionality in their giving to support causes that provide exponential return not only benefits our college and our students, but the wellbeing of all of Idaho’s ag industry.” – Michael Parrella, Dean, U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences