College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Smart Bark, Straw Value, Wild Side

Smart Bark Could Mitigate Environmental Bite

Washington Technology Center has awarded $99,778 in research and technology development funding based on a proposal from WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory in collaboration with Plant Care Technologies Corporation.

Plant Care Technologies Corporation, a start-up nursery bioproducts company located in Pullman, is partnered with the Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory to study the commercial feasibility of using heat-treated waste-wood products as an alternative to traditional plant-growing media.

Washington’s sawmill industry produces 1.3 million tons of bark residues annually. Some of this forest industry byproduct is converted to a lesser-value material or used as fuel to produce steam or heat. Most is discarded as waste, creating both disposal costs and potential environmental issues.

In this Phase I project, WSU’s assistant research professor and Extension specialist Vikram Yadama and associate professor of horticulture and landscape architecture Rita Hummel plan to help Plant Care Technologies Corporation determine the feasibility of turning this bark waste material into a nutrient-supplying horticultural growing medium. The team plans to conduct a thorough analysis of the effects of thermal treatment on bark’s absorption, retention and controlled release of nutrients, herbicides and pesticides. This project is a first step in turning wood waste into a valuable commercial product for the plant materials and horticultural industries.

“This award from the Washington Technology Center underscores the pride we have in WSU and its well-earned reputation for innovative research,” said state Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax), whose legislative district includes WSU’s Pullman campus. “The concepts and discoveries emerging from the partnership between the Wood Materials and Engineering Lab and Plant Care Technologies have great potential for economic development and environmental benefit.”

More information about the Research and Technology Development grants program is available at http://www.watechcenter.org/re/rtd.

Smart bark technology funded for plant care

Smart bark technology funded for plant care


Straw Residue Too Valuable to Harvest for Biofuels Production

Palouse wheat growers should think twice before harvesting crop residue for cellulosic ethanol production, says Ann Kennedy, a USDA-Agricultural Research Service soil scientist based in Pullman.

“In the more than 100 years that we have been cultivating soils in the Palouse, we have lost about half of the original organic matter,” she said. “Organic matter provides nutrients crops need; it holds water and contributes to aggregation.”

Ideally, according to Kennedy, the soils in this part of the Palouse should have about 3.5 percent organic content. In most fields, she said, it is closer to 2 percent.

“A lot of people think residue is part of organic matter,” she said, “but that is not correct. Organic matter is well-decomposed plant material and microbes. It is black and rich and gives soil its dark color.”

Tillage may mix the soil and residue too well, in essence over-feeding the microbes. The microbes will consume the incorporated residue too quickly and release most of it into the air as carbon dioxide.

“It is like going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant every day and eating too much,” she said. “You cannot adequately metabolize all the food you ate. Cultivated soil is like a ‘pig out’ for microbes. We need to constantly replenish organic matter.”

Ann Kennedy, USDA-Agricultural Research Service soil scientist

Ann Kennedy, USDA-Agricultural Research Service soil scientist


Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Snohomish County is rich with natural resources: diverse forests, wild rivers, tranquil streams, and abundant fish and wildlife. An upcoming Washington State University Snohomish County Extension field day offers kids and parents a chance to learn about the natural wonders all around and about exploring, enjoying, and protecting these treasures for future generations.

The Natural Resources Field Day will be held on Wednesday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McCollum Park, 600 – 128th Street S.E. in south Everett. This free event is open to kids of all ages and their families and is being held in partnership with the Snohomish County Parks Department, Adopt-A-Stream Foundation, and the Stillaguamish Tribe.

Kids will have the opportunity to visit different stations to learn about forest ecology, watersheds, bugs, native plants (including ones you can eat), and how to become a Junior Stream-Keeper. Each resource station will allow kids to learn about specific natural resources in a fun, hands-on way. (Note to parents: This may involve getting dirty.)

“This is a rare opportunity for kids to experience real, hands-on, outdoor education,” said Snohomish County 4-H Natural Resources Program Coordinator Gabrielle Roesch. “If your kids like animals, exploring the outdoors, poking at creepy-crawlies, and learning how to be environmental stewards, they’ll have a great time. It is a perfect opportunity to get them outdoors to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment.”

For additional details and registration information, contact Gabrielle Roesch at (425) 357-6011 or gabrielle90@wsu.edu.

Kids have the chance to learn about forest ecology, watersheds, bugs, native plants (including ones you can eat), and how to become a Junior Stream-Keeper. Warning! This may involve getting dirty.

Kids have the chance to learn about forest ecology, watersheds, bugs, native plants (including ones you can eat), and how to become a Junior Stream-Keeper. Warning! This may involve getting dirty. Above: Snohomish River. Photo by Julie Allen/American Farmland.

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CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

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Discovery

CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.   - Edit Item

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Students

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Check out every department and program CAHNRS has to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

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Students have a variety of options to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Many of these have very specific background requirements, so we suggest exploring the individual programs for academic guidelines.

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The CTLL is a student, faculty, alumni and industry partner collaboration for high quality learning and leadership beyond the classroom.










CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Featured Research

Thomas Bass, left, livestock environment specialist at Montana State University and chair of the judging panel, and Mark Risse, right, congratulate George Neerackal on his poster win. (Courtesy photo)
Thomas Bass, left, livestock environment specialist at Montana State University and chair of the judging panel, and Mark Risse, right, congratulate George Neerackal on his poster win.

Cutting manure emissions earns student kudos

BSE student’s work to cut greenhouse impact of manure took honors in poster contest

By Seth Truscott

Pullman, Wash. — Dairy cows produce lots of manure. A WSU student’s research on cutting the environmental impact of all that waste won him second place in a poster competition at Seattle’s annual Waste to Worth conference.

George Neerackal, who graduates later this year with a doctorate in Biological Systems Engineering, took second in the Ron Sheffield Memorial Student poster contest, held March 31 to April 3.

His poster, “Mitigating ammonia emissions from dairy barns through manure-pH management,” was among three winners chosen by a national panel of judges. MORE

 

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Covercrop-byKantorStudy puts a price on help nature provides agriculture

By Sylvia Kantor

PULLMAN, Wash. – Scientists from Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States describe the research they conducted on organic and conventional farms to arrive at dollar values for natural processes that aid farming and that can substitute for costly fossil fuel-based inputs. The study appears in the journal PeerJ.

“By accounting for ecosystem services in agricultural systems and getting people to support the products from these systems around the world, we move stewardship of lands in a more sustainable direction, protecting future generations,” said Washington State University soil scientist John Reganold, one of the study’s authors. MORE

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Prickly-lettuce-plant_Flickr-user-Jim-Kennedy2Study points the way toward producing rubber from lettuce

By Sylvia Kantor

PULLMAN, Wash. – Prickly lettuce, a common weed that has long vexed farmers, has potential as a new cash crop providing raw material for rubber production, according to Washington State University scientists.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they describe regions in the plant’s genetic code linked to rubber production. The findings open the way for breeding for desired traits and developing a new crop source for rubber in the Pacific Northwest. MORE

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By Rebecca Phillips

Bad news in the media got you down? News consumers have only themselves to blame, says new research showing that it’s actually buying habits that drive negative press.

The research looks at the negative news phenomenon through the prism of economic science. And while previous studies have focused on the supply side by examining media output, this analysis is among the first to investigate a negative news bias from the consumer or demand side. MORE

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By Sylvia Kantor

Pullman, Wash. – You generally don’t find livestock among the hills of the Palouse region of eastern Washington where grain is grown. But wheat farmers Eric and Sheryl Zakarison are changing that – and making a profit.

On 100 of their 1,300 family owned acres, they are experimenting with a rather unconventional scheme for the region – growing wheat, peas, perennial grasses like alfalfa and sheep in a tightly integrated system. MORE

 

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Extension

With 39 locations throughout the state, WSU Extension is the front door to the University. Extension builds the capacity of individual, organization, businesses and communities, empowering them to find solutions for local issues and to improve their quality of life. Extension collaborates with communities to create a culture of life-long learning and is recognized for its accessible, learner-centered, relevant, high-quality, unbiased educational programs.

MudflatImpact: Burrowing Shrimp and Invasive Eelgrass

Shellfish production in Washington is a $60 million a year industry. Several major pests plague this industry, resulting in major crop loss. One of the most important pests is subterranean burrowing shrimp. These shrimp bioturbate (stir up) the sediment, causing the oysters to sink and die. For the past 60 years the industry has been using the insecticide Sevin to control this pest, but due to lawsuits its use was phased out in 2012. Without alternative control for shrimp, tens of millions of dollars in annual crop revenue will be lost and the industry will quickly lose its economic viability in southwestern Washington.

PoultryFarmImpact: The National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified agriculture as the leading contributor of pollutants to the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. These reports often do not separate animal agriculture from other agricultural enterprises, but they do note that pathogens, nutrients, and oxygen-depleting substances associated with manure are three of the top five pollutants. Some emerging issues related to manure management include: endocrine disruptors (hormones), pharmaceuticals (antimicrobials), and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Adopting farm practices that minimize the environmental impact is important for food safety.

BiosolidsImpact: Biosolids and Compost

Biosolids are the solids produced during municipal wastewater treatment. Composts are made from a variety of organic materials, including both urban and agriculture sources such as yard trimmings, biosolids, storm debris, food waste or manure, and food processing residues. While these materials have traditionally been viewed as waste, they can play a valuable role as soil amendments in urban and agricultural settings. They provide nutrients and organic matter and they sequester carbon, thereby conserving resources, restoring soils, and combating climate change.

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Alumni & Friends

The WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) Office of Alumni & Friends is a service unit dedicated to promoting philanthropic support for the college’s research, teaching, and extension programs.

CAHNRS seeks $190 million through the Campaign for WSU. This unprecedented fundraising goal is managed through the CAHNRS Office of Alumni and Friends. If you would like to learn more about the CAHNRS’s fundraising priorities, please explore our website or meet the team.

Funding Priorities

Through the Campaign for Washington State University, CAHNRS and WSU Extension will play a major role in defining answers to complex issues through truly big ideas—feeding the world, powering the planet, and ensuring the health and well-being of children, families, and communities. See below to learn more about how we are addressing these issues in our strategic and on-going  initiatives and development of world-class students.

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Wine
renaissance
Organics
lentils
Pulse Crops
Mary Kay Patton
Learning & Leadership (CTLL)
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Tree Fruit
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Grain
AMDT
AMDT

CAHNRS Alumni & Friends
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
alumni.friends@wsu.edu

 



Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

April 6, 2015

  • Signed Faculty and AP Annual Reviews
September 10, 2015
  • Fall Festival

 

A-Z Index of Faculty and Staff Resources:

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Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
deans.cahnrs@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590









Washington State University

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