College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Farming Wheat on the Palouse Sustainably

John Aeschliman discovered the secret to sustainably farming wheat in the Palouse. It’s called direct seeding.

Aeschliman has been using a direct seeding method for 30 years. Direct seeding is a method of farming in which the seed is planted directly into the ground, thus only minimally disturbing the soil. Growers say direct seeding reduces plowing, which in turn preserves top soils, lowers fuel costs and protects the microorganisms and worms that contribute to soil health. In addition, crop residue is left standing to reduce soil erosion and improve moisture retention. Less erosion means less runoff of pesticides into local water systems.

“The whole secret is the residue,” said Aeschliman. Aeschliman piles the residue between the rows where the plant is seeded.

“The better your soil, the better quality of your food,” he said.

The idea for direct seeding came from frustration and thinking a better way must be possible said Aeschliman. He said direct seeding was a disaster when it started, but has now evolved into a successful farming method.

Fred Fleming is another no-till farmer. Along with farming, Fleming is the co-founder of Shepherd’s Grain, along with Karl Kupers. Shepherd’s Grain is an alliance of Northwest family farms that practice sustainable agriculture. The flour producing business has a partnership with Washington State University Dining Services and other business in the Pacific Northwest.

“Our vision is to reconnect producers and consumers and to show that we have a sustainable production system,” said Fleming.

All of the flour that WSU Dining Service uses–some 38,000 pounds per school year–comes from Shepherd’s Grain. The whole wheat baking flour is milled at the Old Centennial Mill, now owned and operated by Archer Daniels Midland, in Spokane.

The WSU-Shepherd’s Grain partnership began in 2001. Since then, direct-seed wheat production has grown from 2,000 to 500,000 bushels. Altogether, Columbia Plateau Producers has more than 70,000 acres under direct seed production. Other Shepherd’s Grain customers include the University of Idaho, Whitworth College, Gonzaga University, the Coeur d’Alene Resort, and Spokane’s Luna Restaurant and Davenport Hotel.

by Whitney Parsons, CAHNRS Marketing and News intern

More on direct-seed farming and Shepherd’s Grain

Cougar Flour Power is Model of Sustainable Agriculture

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.



CAHNRS students are awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships annually.


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.  


CAHNRS has 39 student clubs and organizations to enhance student experiences and opportunities.


With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.


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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.


Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter


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

sliced pear

Research for specialty crops boosted by $1.7 million

More than $1.7 million was awarded to Washington State University for specialty crop research including berries, potatoes, grapes, tree fruit, onions, carrots and Christmas trees.
Western bluebird with cricket. Photo by flickr user Kevin Cole.

Weighing the benefits, risks of wild birds on organic farms

Washington State University researchers will help organic growers protect human health by assessing the risks and benefits of wild birds on organic farms. Researchers received nearly $2 million from the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative to conduct the study.
Moyer Testimony 9.29.15

VIDEO: Jim Moyer testifies on specialty crop research before House Agriculture Committee

Jim Moyer, associate dean of research for CAHNRS and director of the Agricultural Research Center at WSU, presented specialty crop research innovations in Washington, D.C. this fall.
Winter Wheat May 2014 by McFarland

‘A quiet crisis’: The rise of acidic soil in Washington

Gary Wegner first noticed the problem in 1991, when a field on his family’s farm west of Spokane produced one-fourth the usual amount of wheat. Lab tests revealed a surprising result: the soil had become acidic.

Study: Small railroads important but costly to upgrade

More than half of Washington’s short-line rail miles aren’t up to modern standards, according to a recent study by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State University Freight Policy Transportation Institute.
A grizzly bear with her cubs at the WSU bear center.

Single hair shows researchers what a bear has been eating

By looking at a single hair, U.S. and Canadian researchers can get a good idea of a grizzly bear’s diet over several months.


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

What are you thankful for?

This holiday season, we know who we are thankful for—YOU!
Our family, friends, supporters, and alumni are so important to CAHNRS.
We have created a video that helps explain why.

You were an integral part in helping us complete the successful
Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas.
Over 9,700 donors contributed more than $250 million to CAHNRS,
a quarter of the WSU Campaign goal of $1 billion.
Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today. And for that, we thank you.

Your friends in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

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September 10, 2015

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Contact Dean’s Office:
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How many varieties of wheat has WSU developed?



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