The University of Idaho is partnering with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and members of allied industry to build the nation’s largest and most advanced research dairy center. The Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, known as CAFE, will include a herd of 2,000 dairy animals and will be located in the heart of the state’s dairy-producing region.
While research data generated at CAFE will have broad implications across the U.S., the semi-arid environment where most of Idaho’s dairies are located will make CAFE’s research indispensable in the water-constrained West. CAFE’s location, herd size, and research scope make it uniquely positioned to address real-world issues facing the dairy and food processing industries.
Plans for CAFE include a research dairy, water and soil health demonstration farm, an outreach and education center, and a food processing pilot plant. The $45 million project is possible due to a unique public-private partnership with funding coming from the University of Idaho, members of industry, and the state of Idaho.
As the chief executive officer for the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, our members appreciate the focus on the environmental aspect of the research and being able to meet consumer expectations. That really is the major value and benefit of this facility we see as an industry; helping us meet those expectations and continuing to innovate in how we handle the manure produced on our facilities.
The University of Idaho and Idaho Dairymen’s Association jointly purchased 640 acres for the research dairy in February 2019. In early October, University of Idaho faculty led a soil sampling effort at the site of the dairy and demonstration farm to establish an environmental baseline for future research.
An eye toward the future
The site for the dairy also includes 1,200 additional acres for complementary agronomic research, feed production, and nutrient management. This will provide engagement with stakeholders who want to better understand the interactions between dairy and water and soil health. Having never housed a dairy prior, the location provides researchers with the opportunity to view how dairy impacts cropping systems and how the two can interact in a sustainable way.
To learn more about the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, visit: www.uidaho.edu/research/entities/cafe.