ABERDEEN, Idaho, Aug. 17A new $5 million addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Small Grains Germplasm Research Facility was dedicated here today.
Scientists from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and colleagues from the University of Idaho will use the lab and office space for designing and conducting experiments aimed at breeding superior potatoes and grains such as wheat, oats and barley.
ARS scientists at the Aberdeen laboratory were the co-developers of Ranger Russet, now the second most widely planted potato in Idaho, the nation's leading potato-producing state. They also developed Americas first livestock-feed barley that helps reduce phosphorus pollution of creeks, rivers and other waterways.
The newly completed, 12,000-square-foot addition is called the Advanced Genetics Laboratory and was built at a cost of about $5.1 million. Its exterior matches that of the main laboratory, which was completed in 1987. The newly expanded building is located within a University of Idaho research complex, enhancing opportunities for collaborative studies.
"In addition to breeding superior, grain-bearing plants and collaborating with university researchers to develop top-quality potatoes, the ARS scientists at this lab manage a world-renowned collection of wheat, rice, oat, barley, rye, triticale and other small-grain crops from around the world," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Merle D. Pierson. "Rare and wild relatives of these species also are safeguarded in the collection. That's so the genetic diversity, or genepool, of the plants won't be lost to urban encroachment or natural disasters, such as attacks by insects or diseases."
What's more, the Aberdeen laboratory is headquarters for research on new, small-grain-based feeds for farm-raised rainbow trout.
Besides Pierson, invited speakers for today's event included Senator Michael D. Crapo; Idaho Governor James Risch; Aberdeen Mayor Morgan Anderson; John Hammel, dean of the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; ARS associate administrator Antoinette A. Betschart; and ARS Pacific West Area director Dwayne R. Buxton.
ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.