Food production and processing contribute $2.2 billion to Idaho’s gross state product. As many as 51,000 Idaho jobs can be linked to the dairy industry. An increase in these industries also presents growing challenges including nutrient management and water quantity and quality concerns.
Research underway at the University of Idaho is helping dairies to become more sustainable while also helping the industry grow.
Water quantity research focuses on water conservation, its efficient use and tradeoffs with other uses.
Water quality research focuses on environmental management, bio-refining, anaerobic digestion, energy production, recycling and reuse.
Dairy systems modeling research highlights the interaction between social, economic and environmental variables.
Other research focuses on additional value-added products including pathogen-free fiber, recovered chemicals, bio-plastics and other petro-chemical substitutes.
Future research and education priorities:
- Efficient water use in dairy operations
- Restoration of watersheds suffering from nutrient overload from dairies and other agricultural operations
- Increased dairy profitability through improved business planning, animal-care practices, technology for waste reduction and energy production and opportunities for bio-refining
- Understanding soil and animal health relations associated with dairy operations
- Understanding land-use, water and air regulations associated with Western dairies
- Modeling large-dairy sustainability as a function of key social, environmental and economic variables
- Technology-based economic development to support private-sector investment and federal loan guarantees for sustainable dairy industry practices
- Training of the workforce to support all sectors of this agricultural enterprise
- Collaboration of food production, food science and food processing
Interested in conducting research at Idaho CAFE or partnering with us? Contact Michael Parrella to learn more about opportunities.