The University of Idaho is working to create a new facility in Parma, Idaho, designed to support key elements of the state’s agriculture. That center is now closer to reality, with news late in 2019 of a $1 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.
The university is working to establish the Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health at the U of I’s Parma Research and Extension Center. The $7 million project includes construction of a new building with state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment to conduct research in agronomy, entomology, nematology, plant pathology and pomology. The improvements will enhance the university’s ability to recruit and retain world-class faculty and graduate students. As part of this expansion, the university anticipates adding four new faculty at the center, including an irrigation-soil scientist, a weed scientist, a pollination specialist and an Extension fruit-viticulture specialist.
The Parma facility has faculty and students at work conducting research and Extension programs addressing the region’s wide range of specialty crops, as well as issues related to all of Idaho agriculture.
Grant will help Parma center support region
Roger Quarles, foundation executive director, notes that the organization invests in leaders and programs that provide new learning opportunities for Idahoans. “We support innovative organizations that focus on continuous improvement and strive for meaningful results,” he says. “By providing this resource, the Parma Research and Extension Center will continue to support an important agricultural region in our state.”
Michael Parrella, dean, U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, says, “This partnership with the Albertson Family Foundation is pivotal in helping Idaho farmers become even more competitive in their industry.”
Agricultural commodity groups, allied industry and private individuals have shown interest in supporting the project financially. To date, $2.9 million has been committed to the project.
The U of I has served the agriculture industry through the Parma Research and Extension Center for more than seven decades. With more than 40 different kinds of crops, the Parma region leads the state in crop diversity. The region’s unique microclimate makes it an ideal location to conduct research that will impact many of the 185 different commodities Idaho growers produce statewide.
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