Iowa State University dairy researchers and students will soon have a new state-of-the-art dairy research and education center on 887 acres located just three miles south of the Ames, Iowa campus.

Construction on phase 1 will begin this fall and is expected to take about a year. When complete the dairy will house about 450 milking cows (about 100 more than the current ISU dairy in Ankeny) plus a similar number of heifers, dry cows and calves.

Planned facilities include: a 450-cow barn, dairy center that will include a milking parlor, public viewing area and teaching/meeting rooms, special needs/hospital barn, dry cow/transition barn, maternity barn, calf research barn, two heifer barns, a metabolism barn for research studies, and a residence for a manager who will live on site

The Committee for Agricultural Development (CAD), a nonprofit organization affiliated with the university, finalized the purchase of farmland earlier this week. CAD bought the 887-acre site for $6.25 million from Knapp Properties Inc., of West Des Moines. For the past two years CAD has leased most of the site on behalf of the university as a potential location for the dairy facility.

"This is the location we'd hoped would be the eventual home for the new dairy facility," said Catherine Woteki, dean of ISU's College of Agriculture. "The site CAD has purchased is simply ideal. It's easily accessible for our faculty and the many students who'll use the facility, as well as the many expected visitors and participants in extension programs."

"The site also is strategically located in a corridor of existing livestock teaching and research facilities," said Woteki. "This 'animal science corridor' will help us share resources and run more efficient operations."

At this week's meeting of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, ISU will present information on final plans for the new dairy facility. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall on the $15.3 million first phase of the project, with a completion date of a year later. The second phase will be construction of a $9 million pavilion for educational, outreach and student programs.

At a later date, Iowa State will seek approval from the Board of Regents to buy the land from CAD using proceeds from the sale of the university's Ankeny Farm. The university continues to work on details of that sale.

The land transactions result from state legislation passed in 2002. The Iowa Legislature directed Iowa State to sell its Ankeny Farm, which is primarily used for dairy research and education, and use the proceeds to build a modern dairy facility. The nearly 1,100-acre Ankeny Farm is surrounded by Ankeny's urban growth.

When completed, the new dairy facility will replace two outdated dairy operations. ISU's Ankeny Farm's facilities date back to the 1940s. The former Dairy Teaching Farm in Ames, which closed in 2003 to address state budget cuts, had facilities dating back nearly 100 years and also was surrounded by community growth.

"The new facility will be well-equipped to meet the educational needs of our students and the research and extension needs of Iowa's dairy industry, which contributes about $1.5 billion annually to Iowa's economy," said Maynard Hogberg, chair of ISU's animal science department.

CAD has pledged a $1 million grant to Iowa State to help establish the new dairy facility. Through its history, CAD has provided grants to support agricultural research at ISU.

"It's been exciting to hear about plans for this state-of-the-art facility," said Dave Tierney of Ames, chair of the CAD board of trustees. "We believe it will be one of the nation's premier dairy education and research facilities."

Established in 1943, the mission of CAD is to produce and make publicly available crop seeds developed by ISU researchers and to acquire and maintain adequate farmland for ISU agricultural research and education.

Iowa State University