While Washington State University has long been known for wheat breeding and other significant crop and plant research, the University’s scientists have also made significant strides in understanding the importance of soil and soil health.
Here are just a few articles on findings and research at WSU on soil health; you can find more at WSU News and on the Crop and Soil Sciences website. You can also read more about influential soil scientist Jim Cook in “Soil Man” (in this issue).
“Till tomorrow” (WSM Fall 2016)
Scientists at the WSU Cook … » 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 …
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.”
The design isn’t just about gameplay, though.
As water becomes … » More …
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.
“I do not believe that any man can adequately appreciate the world of to-day unless he has some knowledge of … the history of the world of the past.” —Theodore Roosevelt, 1911
A hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt’s vision of conservation came to fruition with the establishment of the National Park Service. Although President Woodrow Wilson established the NPS, Roosevelt had doubled the number of national parks and passed the Antiquities Act in 1906 when he was in the Oval Office. Roosevelt believed that we must have a deeper and longer-term view of our country’s natural and historical heritage.
In the spirit of Roosevelt’s aims, … » More …
Agricultural research shifts to the LONG game
As David Huggins looks out across the rolling hills of the R.J. Cook Agronomy Farm at Washington State University in Pullman, his enthusiasm about soil is tempered with a sense of urgency about the future of agriculture.
Huggins, a USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist, is keenly aware of the squeeze placed on agriculture by a growing global population in the face of limited resources and a changing climate.
“At no time in the history of the world have we known more about our farming system and our understanding of soil, the atmosphere, and our crops,” … » More …