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Agriculture

grape vine illustration
Summer 2017

Hanging a left at wine

The allure of winemaking has attracted a menagerie of professionals to the business. Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program has lured aerospace engineers, Army medics, apparel designers, scientists, and many others to the field. Here, we bring you a few of the stories of those who have changed careers by hanging a left at wine.

After years of dissecting rat brains, Berenice Burdet had had enough.

The Argentinian neuroscientist was untangling stress’s web of physiological effects on the hippocampus. The stress we feel in a crammed subway train, Burdet says, affects our behavior by dampening affect. We become depressed, and activity levels decline. … » More …

Talk Back
Summer 2017

Talkback for Summer 2017

 

Waste not

I enjoyed reading “Waste Not” in the Spring ’17 issue of Washington State Magazine. I learned a lot and was especially intrigued by the part about microwave sterilization and preservation.

I thought I would clarify to readers that, while composting food waste still releases greenhouse gasses, if treated properly with balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, aeration, and moisture, decaying food waste favors carbon dioxide and releases less methane than that same material would in a landfill, where moisture, aeration, and the rot recipe are far from optimal. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Animal husbandry is the missing … » More …

Spring 2017

Emergence

Last August, shifting sands on a well-trafficked beach along Oahu’s west coast revealed 400-year-old carvings left behind by Hawaiian indigenous people. The 17 petroglyphs etched into the sandstone on Waianae Coast, and the stories they tell, had never been recorded. Without the right conditions, they may have remained hidden for years or centuries.

Archaeological sites like the one in Hawai‘i, or ancient buried pyramids and tombs in Egypt, open up their secrets when the conditions are right, but sometimes even plainly visible ruins hold mysteries. Mesa Verde’s astounding Cliff Palace and other Pueblo sites provide insight into the continent’s past civilizations to … » More …

Faster drop for a new crop
Spring 2017

Faster drop for a new crop

Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.

The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …

Talk Back
Spring 2017

TalkBack for Spring 2017

 

Where would the wood?… 

I enjoyed the article “Wood Takes Wing” in the Winter 16 edition of Washington State Magazine on the many possibilities for wood as a new source of carbon molecules for all of those polymers we take for granted. Technologies that allow us to reduce burning of fossil fuels for energy recognize its highest value. The potential for atmospheric carbon reduction is a plus.

But there was an unasked question hanging behind the article—where will the timber come from to fill the old mills? The same environmental groups who just say no to transporting or burning fossil fuels also eagerly block … » More …

Spring 2017

Leeks

All Ray de Vries asks is that we enjoy leeks three times a day. The Skagit Valley farmer known as the Leek King is not being selfish, though. He’ll also tell you how to grow leeks so you can eat them all year round—and that everyone in the Pacific Northwest should grow them. “We’ve got the perfect climate,” he says.

The de Vries family got into leeks after Ray’s dad, Ralph, retired from dairy farming and planted a large produce garden. Ralph went to Seattle’s Produce Row and asked sellers what they needed. “We need leeks! As big as you can grow ’em!”

So that’s … » More …

Mushrooms, after the rains
Spring 2017

After the rains

WSU meteorologist Nic Loyd is stuck on one word for last October’s Washington weather: Wet.

Make that two words: Abnormally wet. Sea-Tac measured over 10 inches of rainfall. Even dry Yakima saw almost 2-1/2 inches. But the undisputed epicenter of soggy conditions was Spokane which registered not only their rainiest October ever, but the highest precipitation for any month ever recorded: a whopping 6-1/4 inches. That’s remarkable when compared to an average October rainfall of just 1-1/4 inches. Especially given that their typical annual total is just over 16 inches.

Loyd says this was due to an unusually deep and persistent trough of low pressure … » More …

Spring 2017

Waste not

Someone forgot about the fruit salad. When the refrigerator door opens, the sickly sweet aroma delivers a potent reminder. All the rotting apples, pears, and bananas in the bowl will need to be thrown out, and hopefully composted. It may seem insignificant, but that fruit salad represents a piece of the 40 percent of food wasted in the United States, about 20 pounds per person each month.

In recent years, food waste in this country and many other places around the world has grown not only in volume, but also in the collective consciousness. The numbers are staggering. Americans throw away an estimated $165 billion … » More …

Reduce food waste at home
Spring 2017

Reduce food waste at home

There are a variety of ways to reduce food waste at home, which can save you money, help the environment, and possibly feed people who need it.

Stop waste at the source

Assess food purchasing and preparation in your business or home to reduce the volume of food waste that is generated.

Make a list with meals in mind.
Buy only what you expect to use.
Keep fruits and vegetables fresh.
Prep perishables sooner rather than later.
Eat what needs eating first.
Treat expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines.
Save – and actually eat – leftovers.» More …