By Rebecca Phillips
Today’s consumers care about where their food comes from and how it is grown.
They care about the impact of agricultural and natural resource management practices on the environment.
They care about preserving a healthy, sustainable future for their children.
Washington gets that. The second most agriculturally diverse state in the country, with one of the largest organics enterprises, Washington farmers learned early on about the competitive advantages of producing quality goods using earth-friendly practices. And Washington State University has grown the research base to support and refine those practices. It is a partnership that has made the state an international leader in both the science and culture of organic agriculture.
For more than 30 years, WSU scientists have conducted research in nearly every facet of growing food organically. The university’s commitment to organics is demonstrable, whether through its Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, or its creation of the first four-year major in organic agriculture in the country. Today, more than 50 faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines are involved in WSU’s organics program in research, teaching and Extension. And, they are located throughout the state, so their work remains locally relevant and applicable.
WSU researchers work hand-in-glove with the organic agriculture industry in Washington. Some say there would not be an organic tree fruit industry in Washington without the research of WSU faculty. Today, Washington is the nation’s No. 1 producer of organic apples, pears and cherries. WSU also leads the way in the development of organic wheat varieties, which, when successful, will transform the environmental impact of one of the largest agricultural enterprises in the world.
From molecule to market, WSU scientists work to identify and address the biggest challenges facing organic agriculture in the state and beyond – soil fertility, pest control, energy conservation, and economic and environmental sustainability.
By Kathy Barnard, CAHNRS Marketing, News, and Educational Communications