In the heart of Nye County was the Nevada Test Site, now known as the Nevada National Security Site. It’s where above and below ground nuclear testing was conducted starting in 1951. Testing continued through 1992.
An experimental dairy farm in Area 15 was established in 1963 to determine how radioactive iodine moved through the human food chain. The farm operated in the same way as a Grade A dairy, except that all milk produced was disposed as waste. A 15 acre farm plot for forage was laid out, along with individual pens for up to 26 milk cows. 18 years of experiments provided good insights into the the passage of radioactive materials through the so called “air-to-forage-to-cow-to-milk-pathway.”
A 100-cow beef herd was also maintained at the Test Site. The University of Nevada’s Experiment Station had a part in research on these animals, as well as two other herds kept off site. Bohmont wrote that “cattle were proven to be fine monitoring devices for radiation.” The other herds were located in Delmar Valley ninety miles northeast of the test site and at Knoll Creek near Elko, some 350 miles north.
Golden Years of Agriculture in Nevada, Dale Bohmont, Nevada Heritage Series. 1989.
Nevada Test Site Experimental Farm: Summary Report 1963 – 1981. EPA document. 1984.