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Crop and Soil Sciences

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University serves the Land Grant tradition by offering nationally competitive undergraduate and graduate education programs, conducting fundamental and applied plant and soil research, and extending the science of our disciplines to serve the public.

CSS News & Updates

Demand Grows for WSU Graduates in Agriculture, Sustainability

Washington State University students developing skills in agricultural sciences can look forward to strong career prospects over the next five years.

WSU graduates in agricultural technology, organic and sustainable agriculture, and agricultural education have been in demand for several years running. Now, the latest employment outlook report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, developed by scientists at Purdue University and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), predicts that opportunities for new college graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment will continue to grow.

A New Home for Collaborative Agricultural Research

Washington State University will celebrate the opening of the new Plant Sciences Building, a state-of-the-art home on the Pullman campus for collaborative research supporting regional and global agriculture.

The new facility will be virtually dedicated through a commemorative video to be released on Nov. 16, 2020. Featuring university and college leaders, students, and agricultural and legislative partners, the video can be viewed via the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) website.

WSU Creates New Endowed Chair in Soil Health to Support Potato Agriculture

PULLMAN, Wash. -Launching new research in support of Washington potato growers, Washington State University is partnering with industry leaders to study healthier, more sustainable and productive soils.

Backed by a more-than-$3 million fund created by potato growers, processors, and suppliers, WSU’s newly created Distinguished Endowed Chair in Soil Health for Potato Cropping Systems will address priorities in irrigated agriculture, including the need to better understand and protect the soil we rely on to grow potatoes, a critical part of our global food supply.  A national search for a top scientist will begin this year.

WSU‑PNNL Distinguished Graduate Research Program Provides Real‑World Experience

Katherine Naasko’s interest in how climate affects soil led her to move from Michigan out West to join the graduate program in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University.

“I do not regret moving across the country as I have been gifted a tremendous amount of support,” Naasko said. When the opportunity of the WSU-Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Distinguished Graduate Research Program (DGRP) presented itself to Naasko, she knew it was the next step in her education.

WSU Research Helps Turn Pennycress from a Weed to Bioenergy Seed Crop

Named for its coin-shaped, oil-rich seedpods, pennycress has colonized much of the globe as a common weed. But those oily seeds, unsuitable for human consumption, are an ideal crop for biodiesel and jet fuels.

This fall, researchers at Washington State University are taking a closer look at the genetics and physiology of pennycress, as part of a multi-institutional, $12.9 million research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and led by Illinois State University scientist John Sedbrook.

Their five-year goal: to help develop a winter cover crop that can thrive in the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. Corn Belt, and beyond.

Karen Sanguinet, a crop physiologist and molecular geneticist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, leads a $1.29 million subsidiary project at WSU, along with soil microbiologist Tarah Sullivan and extension agronomist Isaac Madsen.

International Online Quinoa Research Symposium Shares New Research, Indigenous Knowledge, Community

Focusing global attention on quinoa’s contribution to food security, nutrition, and sustainable production, more than 1,000 viewers from 52 countries took part in the International Quinoa Research Symposium (IQRS), hosted virtually at Washington State University, August 17-19, 2020,

The WSU Sustainable Seed Systems Lab (SSSL), in collaboration with the WSU Food Systems Program, co-produced the 2nd Symposium, showcasing diverse research presentations with leading experts worldwide during three days of bilingual, interactive talks, field walks, poster sessions, and forums.

Les Dames Organization Debuts New Scholarship for WSU Women in Agriculture

The Seattle Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a nonprofit invitational organization of women leaders in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, has endowed a new scholarship at Washington State University for organic and sustainable agriculture.

WSU student Harmony Stephens, who is currently pursuing a degree in Organic Agriculture Systems and Soil Science, is the first recipient of the award. She said the scholarship will allow her to pursue her passion for sustainability and environmental preservation.

WSU Breadlab Bakes for Local Food Pantry During COVID-19

Stephen Jones, director of the Washington State University Breadlab, will deliver the 6000th loaf of bread to a nearby food pantry this week since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-March, Jones and his team, with the help of tenant and partner King Arthur Baking Company, added “Baking for Good” to their already full days. Every week since then, Jones has personally delivered hundreds of nutritious, delicious loaves of whole grain bread to organizations that feed community members in need, including schools and food pantries.

WSU Field Days Go Virtual

One of the highlights for most Extension professionals in agriculture is the opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest in field research at field days and interact with growers face-to-face. Unfortunately, “face-to-face” during these unusual times is something to be avoided, so many of us are finding alternative solutions to accomplish the land grant mission. In this case, it means that Washington State University (WSU) has moved its summer 2020 field days online. WSU and USDA-ARS researchers have been working with the division of Academic, Outreach and Innovation as well as the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) Communications at WSU to visit variety trials and research plots around the state in order to film and produce virtual “field days”.

Each “field day” or location will be posted as a playlist on the WSU CAHNRS YouTube channel and users can click on the topic(s) of interest. Videos will be housed on the WSU CAHNRS YouTube page with links placed on multiple websites including the WSU Wheat & Small Grains website. We will also send out notifications via the Small Grains Twitter and Facebook when the videos are posted. The Lind Field Day is posted and the Reardan/Wilke Farm and Dayton field days should be posted by July 4. The Pullman Field Day will be posted no later than July 10.

Tadd Wheeler Joins Agricultural Technology and Production Management Program

Teacher and scientist Tadd Wheeler is joining Washington State University’s Agricultural Technology and Production Management (AgTM) Program, helping prepare students for promising careers that blend technological know-how with modern agriculture.

Starting on July 15, Wheeler will serve as a teaching assistant professor, taking over from James Durfey, who is nearing retirement after 28 years with the program. Wheeler will transition to lead the program following Durfey’s retirement.

One of the largest undergraduate majors in WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, AgTM readies students for careers in precision agriculture, farming and forestry, nursery management, animal breeding, seed production, and food quality. AgTM combines physical and biological sciences with technology, mathematics, business, and practical subjects. Graduates are highly sought after, and leave the program prepared to own, operate, and manage their own business or serve private and government organizations.

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WSU Ag Programs Highly Ranked in the World

US News and World Report places WSU at #36 for Best Global Universities for Agriculture Sciences. For more information, go to the US News list. QS World University Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry places WSU at #45 worldwide. For more information, go to the CS Worldwide list.