Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat
By R. James Cook
American Phytopathological Society Press: 2017
Throughout the compelling stories and personal experiences shared by Jim Cook, a retired research plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and emeritus professor of plant pathology at Washington State University, readers can find practical crop management techniques and other beneficial information that can be used in the field and the lab. Cook also chronicles many of his insightful experiences—and imparts his philosophy, wisdom, and practical guidance.
Old assumptions about human breast milk are giving way to new thinking about microbes in milk and their role in children’s health and our immune systems.
It happened again, most recently at a conference in Prague. After she gave her talk, a scientist came up to Shelley McGuire, a pioneer exploring the microbial communities found in human breast milk, and told her, You don’t know how to take a sample. Your samples must have been contaminated. Human milk is sterile.
McGuire, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University, knows differently: She’s seen the microbes with her own eyes. But she understands … » More …
Tarah Sullivan is fiercely insistent that we are all interconnected. The Washington State University soil microbiologist and ecologist says that understanding those connections is key to a healthy future.
“I know it sounds a little hokey,” the mother of two daughters apologizes without backing down: “Microorganisms connect everything everyday in every way. We absolutely could not survive on the planet without active and healthy microbiomes, in humans and in the environment.”
Sullivan’s work focuses on how microbial communities in soil impact heavy metal biogeochemistry. Many metals are important micronutrients for both plants and animals—but too much of a good thing can make plants sick. … » More …
On the south end of Puget Sound, where I lived for a number of years, water surrounds Olympia: Black Lake, Budd Bay, Capitol Lake, inlets, rivers, and creeks. It’s part of the picturesque scenery that I enjoyed daily, until I saw a half-submerged SUV at an intersection. The storms of 2007 flooded some streets, not to mention covering I-5 just south in Centralia. Water had become an unexpected hazard.
We can expect even more heavy storms and major floods, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, as the climate changes. Floods that were once seen every 20 years are projected to happen as much as … » More …
In the verdant woods outside Covington, Dane Scarimbolo brews local beer.
After graduating from Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program, Scarimbolo ’10 realized a wine startup would take a lot of money and time. He enjoyed making beer, so he opened Four Horsemen Brewery in 2015 with an eye toward an older, community-minded ethos that could please the beer equivalent of a locavore.
“I was adamant about sourcing everything from Washington,” he says. In that spirit, Scarimbolo sells his craft beer at farmers markets in the region, just like farmers offer lettuce, carrots, and berries grown locally. Scarimbolo knows the beekeepers who … » More …
“Life can multiply until all the phosphorus is gone, and then there is an inexorable halt which nothing can prevent. We may be able to substitute nuclear power for coal, plastics for wood, yeast for meat, and friendliness for isolation—but for phosphorus there is neither substitute nor replacement.”
The Greeks called phosphorus “the bearer of light,” a chalky white mineral that ignites spontaneously and gives pizazz to matchsticks and fireworks. Theories suggest it even arrived on Earth in a fiery meteorite crash billions of years ago.
The fifteenth element could also be called the bearer of life. Wound into DNA … » More …
Of all the fruit trees, it sometimes seems like the most common backyard resident is the plum. Whether you live in Lynden or Lind, if you don’t have a nearby plum tree, chances are you can find one. A neighbor might even give you a big bag of purple fruit.
Although apples, pears, and cherries dominate the commercial tree fruit of Washington, the state produces the second-most plums in the nation. To be fair, California commands that sector, with 97 percent of the plum market.
That doesn’t diminish the plum as a tasty addition to any homegrown suite of fruit. In fact, Washington … » More …
A small, brownish dry spot is visible on the ninth fairway at Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
Superintendent Mike Bednar is unbothered, which might seem a bit surprising given the course’s enviable reputation among national golfing groups.
“This is designed to play hard and fast,” says Bednar ’92, ’04, explaining Palouse Ridge needs to be a bit on the dry side to deliver the kind of gameplay challenge that’s kept it atop national rankings ever since its 2008 opening. “We’ve got an irrigation system that lets us water only when and where it’s necessary.”
Somewhere in the dryland wilds of eastern Washington, Michael Neff and his wife stop the car.
“I’ve always wanted to hike these dunes,” he says to her. “I could not believe the grasses that were stabilizing those dunes!” Neff says later. He refuses to identify where, exactly, the dunes in question are located. “It’s those little pockets of diversity that we need to identify and preserve,” he explains, almost—but not quite—apologetic.
Trained as a botanist and now a professor of molecular biology at Washington State University, Neff expands on why this is important: “If we’re going to be resilient in the face of climate … » More …