Governor Beshear visits SmartHolstein Lab at WKU farm
- WKU News
- Friday, November 19th, 2021
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear visited Western Kentucky University on Thursday to tour the university’s SmartHolstein Lab. The lab is a partnership between Holstein Association USA and WKU’s Department of Agriculture and Food Science. Funding for the project is provided by Holstein Association USA and Kentucky’s Agriculture Development Board.
Governor Beshear said the SmartHolstein lab demonstrates the future of the agriculture industry. “It shows that we are on the cutting edge of where we have to go in agriculture.”
The Governor also noted that increasing global water shortages coupled with a growing population make innovations like those at the lab essential. “We have to innovate. We have to increase our yield. We have to increase the amount of milk production.”
The lab showcases new technologies in the field of Dairy Science. Its mission is to lead Holstein and dairy advancements through research, development, and outreach in technologies, analytics, and genetics, providing students with unique experiential learning opportunities. Among the technologies in use at the lab are milk-based biomarkers and wearable indwelling sensors designed to collect novel phenotypic traits. The lab’s herd is used to explore genetic selection strategies.
The lab monitors herd health, milk production, and milk quality, among other characteristics. “The research is important, because happy, healthy cows produce good quality milk,” said Paul Woosley, Director of WKU’s Agriculture Research and Education Center and a Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Food Science.
Governor Beshear said that the research being conducted at the lab has far-reaching implications. “This isn’t just important for the scientific advances and for us to be leading the way right here in Kentucky. This is incredibly important for the future of our country, and for the future of our world.”
Fred DeGraves, Chair of the Department of Agriculture and Food Science, noted the important role the lab plays in providing students with hands-on research and experiential learning opportunities. “When I first came to WKU, one of the promises I made was that we were going to use the facilities as much as possible for teaching our students to do applied research projects for both undergraduate and graduate students,” he said.
The SmartHolstein Lab illustrates the ways in which agriculture has shifted to become a technology-driven industry. “This gives students an opportunity to not only use the technology, but to demonstrate the technology, teach the technology, and innovate the technology,” DeGraves said. “I want our program to be the place you go as a student to get hands-on experiential learning. This is just the start. We’re going to make the best use of these resources for the benefit of our students.”
Governor Beshear also spoke about the importance of Bowling Green and the role that WKU plays in the community. “Bowling Green is an exciting place. From new employers locating here to all the new growth we’re seeing through the university and its research, a strong WKU is absolutely necessary as this area takes off in ways we all dreamed of.”
Contact: Jace Lux, (270) 745-4295
- WKU -
Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty and staff for long term success. As a student-centered, applied research university, WKU helps students expand on classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of the nicest towns in America, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.