University Of Idaho Parma Research Center: A Twofold Treasure

Established in 1925, the Parma Research and Extension Center at the University of Idaho, Parma, ID, came about “from the need for research and extension efforts to sustain and improve the productivity of the crops grown in southwest Idaho.” The 200-acre property houses University of Idaho faculty members whose research and extension programs focus on production, storage and other related problems of vegetables, forages, cereals, hop, mint, fruit and seed crops.

Research at Parma, however, is not limited to the field. According to the center’s website, the facility provides 5,100 square feet of greenhouse space that is utilized year-round, and there are 540 square feet of growth chamber rooms that are used for entomology research projects. Additionally, there are approximately 7,500 square feet of office space and meeting rooms for faculty and support staff, and nearly 5,000 square feet of laboratory space.

Ten faculty members conduct research and extension programs at the center, among these programs are entomology, crop management, soils, horticulture, pomology, nematology and plant pathology. Helping to carry-out these programs are 15 additional full-time support staff including research support scientists, post-doctoral fellows, scientific and technical aides, farm and maintenance crew employees and office staff.

According to facility superintendent and professor of plant science Mike Thornton, Parma is a special facility due to, among other reasons, its unique location in the heart of Idaho’s Treasure Valley region. “This station serves a unique role in that we are the only one in Idaho working on many of the high value crops grown in what is known as the Treasure Valley region of southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon,” says Thornton. “For example, we conduct research on crops like alfalfa seed, sweet corn seed, hops, mint, onions, potatoes, apples, peaches, sugar beets and table grapes to name a few.”

The Simplot Thickens

What sets Parma apart from other land-grant university research centers is the close relationship with Boise-based J.R. Simplot Co., the 5th ranked U.S. retailer on CropLife® magazine’s CropLife 100. Simplot became involved in the center in 2008 as a cooperative partner after funding difficulties had the facility on the brink of shut down.

“At the time, the Dean was very adamant that the center would close without outside funding, so I believe we would not be in operation today without this agreement with Simplot,” says Thornton.

Terry Tindall, Ph.D. and senior agronomist with Simplot, states that the company’s goal in partnering with the University of Idaho was “to work with third-party, independent researchers and faculty in helping to develop and define some of our new fertilizer materials and better understand products and materials that we would like to have enter the production agriculture market.”

“Nothing replaces research in providing a foundation for agronomic understanding,” adds Tindall. “With the close working relationship that has been developed at Parma, we can confidently be in a better position to make recommendations for Simplot’s valued customers and local growers.”

A main benefit of the relationship for Simplot is gaining access to the physical facilities at Parma. “An added benefit for Simplot is the field tours and agronomic reviews that have taken place,” says Tindall. “For the last three summers we’ve hosted international field days with participants from over 20 different countries. Also, demonstration trials as well as research trials have been the center of attention at Parma. Lectures in a room are good to an extent, but hands-on experience is a tremendous influence for presenting new products or methods of application.”

For the university, the opportunity to work, and for students to learn, hand-in-hand with industry is a huge advantage. “What has changed (after bringing Simplot on) is that we have more direct industry input into our research and extension programs,” says Thornton. “This occurs through the Simplot cooperators, as well as other supporters like the Treasure Valley Agriculture Coalition that provide funding as well as advice on station operations. Another benefit this agreement has brought is expanding the range of groups we work with to conduct research. For example, several companies have brought products to us to get third-party efficacy data due to our relationship with Simplot.”

Improving Fertilizer

Currently, according to Tindall, most of the facility’s resources are being focused on improving nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer-use efficiency.

“These efforts are extremely important, not only directly to growers and ag retailers who are using these products, but also to the communities in which we work,” says Tindall. “By allowing a greater proportion of these fertilizer products to be accessed and utilized by a particular crop, the less likely they are to be used in excess and loss to the environment.”

Tindall also notes that faculty and researchers are also working on solutions to help address the global food security crisis. “A long-term project of Simplot and the University of Idaho at Parma is addressing concerns related to irrigated corn production. Pushing yield goal parameters with seed populations, starter fertilizers, new genetics and enhanced efficiency fertilizers allows opportunities to address the seriousness of improving food security issues now, before we are faced with calamities in the future.”

After about four years of working in concert, local growers are reportedly quite pleased with the Simplot-University of Idaho partnership. “Growers tell us the research conducted here is very important in keeping them competitive in terms of cost of production and quality as required in a global market place,” says Thornton. “We help them use inputs like water, fertilizer and pesticides more efficiently, as well as adopt new varieties and cultural practices.  We have also been at the forefront locally in identifying and controlling new pest outbreaks.”

Adds Tindall: “Stewardship of our land and input resources continues to be discussed at Parma across regional and national geographies. While we do not have all the answers to these complex issues, the relationship between the University of Idaho and the J.R. Simplot Co. can help provide local answers that may very well be used on a national and global basis in the near future.”

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More

Trending Articles

HerbicidesAdjusting To The New Reality Of Weed Control
November 4, 2014
Even with new cropping systems being readied for market introductions, weed control will remain a challenge for many. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More

Latest News

soybean field
Crop InputsABM Patents Microbial R&D Technique
November 25, 2014
Focused Microbial Diversity (FMD) is a newly patented technique employed by Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) to research and develop microbials that will be used in ABM products Read More
Crop InputsStorage Options Help Grain Growers Go To Market
November 24, 2014
While on-farm storage in a traditional upright storage bin is one possibility for storing grain, it may not be for everyone. Read More
Eric SfiligojGiving Thanks For Another Great Year
November 24, 2014
As Thanksgiving Day 2014 arrives, agriculture has plenty to be thankful for. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Cost-Cutting Program To Affect 1,800 Jobs
November 24, 2014
The company's Accelerating Operational Leverage program will result in job reductions and relocations totaling around 1,800 across the company, the majority of which will occur in 2015. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More