BELLE MINA – Ground was broken May 25 for a new administrative building at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, made possible by a $1 million donation from the Alabama Farmers Federation.
The Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center is one of 15 research facilities operated across the state by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University’s agricultural and natural resource research arm. Established in Belle Mina in 1927, the center has always focused on helping area farmers increase their profits while reducing agriculture’s environmental impact.
The 755-acre center, nationally recognized for its cotton research program, also is known for its work on soybeans, corn and grain crops and its cutting-edge irrigation research. In recent years it has become a hub of precision agriculture research aimed at using the latest technology to reduce the costs and inputs of farming while also making it more environmentally friendly. It is one of six research and Extension centers across the state that houses not only Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station researchers, but also Alabama Cooperative Extension System experts.
As is the case at many of the Experiment Station’s research facilities, the center has long needed to update its facilities. The new Alabama Farmers Federation Administrative Building will create meeting space for field days and other agricultural and community gatherings and add much-needed office space for the research and Extension employees and scientists working at Belle Mina.
The deadly tornado outbreak that ravaged Alabama April 27 did damage buildings and some equipment at the center, and though this new facility will not replace any of those damaged buildings, it will help mitigate some of the effects of that damage.
Jerry Newby, president of the federation and Alfa Insurance companies who pledged the money for the administrative building in 2007, said renovating and upgrading the center will support farming and benefit farmers throughout the state.
“When the College of Agriculture approached us about making a contribution, we looked for a project that would benefit Alabama farmers both now and in the future,” Newby said. “Improving the facilities at the Tennessee Valley center will meet this goal by providing researchers and Extension personnel the tools they need to serve rural Alabama.
“Not only is it our state’s premier cotton research facility, but it is also home to projects that focus on livestock, horticulture, grain crops, precision agriculture and much more,” he added.
“The Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center is a major center of agricultural research and Extension in the Tennessee Valley, and the farmers and scientists who utilize the center deserve to have a state-of-the-art-facility,” said Bill Batchelor, director of the Experiment Station and dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture. “The significant generosity of Alfa will make that possible and we are extremely grateful.”
(Written by Katie Jackson.)