Collaboration, communication and innovation are three words that best describe the Dairy Innovation Hub. As we complete year one of this new venture it has been remarkable to witness the speed at which the Hub has gone from a concept to conducting cutting-edge research for the dairy community. This has all happened at a time when many things have been disrupted due to the global pandemic.
The investment made by the State of Wisconsin in the Dairy Innovation Hub has allowed the three Agricultural colleges in the state, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls to look at their mission in a different way. They are working together in ways that will provide collaboration of ideas from both students and faculty in a way that should benefit all. In this way, each campus can leverage their strengths, and look at opportunities to expand into new areas that have not been available to them due to lack of funding or staff to carry out the research. The ripple effect of this new research will be even more questions to investigate based on what they find.
The Hub was built on four main pillars: stewarding land and water resources, enriching human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare, and growing farm businesses and communities. Each of these pillars provides a framework to important questions facing the dairy community and the State of Wisconsin. They do not just ask how we can produce more milk, but how we can do it more efficiently by doing more with less and at the same time protecting our valuable resources. Can we improve the health of our citizens by discovering new and transformative dairy products? Can milk and Vitamin D provide some protection from viruses or other aliments? All of these have one common theme – it takes scientific, evidence-based research, to develop the best solutions.
The recent virtual Dairy Summit highlighted the importance of the Hub to farmers as well as citizens of Wisconsin. The farmer panel talked about how this cutting-edge research will affect their farms not only today, but also for the next generation that will hopefully continue their family farms. The Summit also demonstrated the depth of research that is already being done at all three campuses. The collaborations are breaking down traditional silos, allowing researchers across non-traditional disciplines to focus their talents on the dairy community.
As we look to the New Year, the Dairy Innovation Hub gives us hope that if we look for new ways to accomplish our goals, the results of that forward thinking can be limitless!
Chairman, Dairy Innovation Hub
Mystic Valley Dairy, Sauk City, Wis.