Archived Program Impacts
Pesticide Training Leads to Improved Pass Rate for State License Exams
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, managed by Carrie Foss and Becky Hines in Puyallup and Carol Ramsey in Pullman, provides pesticide pre-license training for pesticide operators, pest management professionals, and structural pest inspectors. Art Antonelli in Puyallup assists with hands-on workshops and lectures that lead to the improvement of clients' diagnostic skills and updates their knowledge base. According to Washington State Department of Agriculture, the pass rate for those taking the training is considerably higher than for those taking the exam without the benefits of this program. More »
Nutrient Management Program Impacts Washington's Dairy Industry
The Nutrient Management Program at WSU Puyallup, managed by Joe Harrison, developed a Livestock Influenced Water Quality Risk Self-Assessment Tool to be utilized by more than 10,000 beef and livestock producers in Washington State. The program also has developed new predictive equations for manure production and nutrient excretion by dairy cows that impacts the nutrient management of 80,000 dairies in the United States. The program conducted an evaluation of winter manure application management for low animal density dairy operations in Western Washington, resulting in the adoption of a winter manure application guidance by Washington State Natural Resource Conservation Service. More »
A Better Approach for Ecological Risk Assessment
John Stark's Ecotoxicology program at WSU Puyallup studies the impacts of pesticides and other toxicants on populations, communities, and food webs with particular emphasis on aquatic organisms inhabiting rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest, including salmon and the invertebrates they feed on. Through laboratory and field study results Dr. Stark has shown that the current ecological risk assessment process (the way in which decisions are made to protect threatened and endangered species from toxic chemicals) is flawed. John Stark has gone on to recommend a better approach for estimating risk. Contact John Stark for more information.
New Strawberry and Raspberry Cultivars for the Pacific Northwest
The Small Fruit Breeding and Genetics Program develops new strawberry and raspberry cultivars that are more productive or more disease or insect resistant while retaining the excellent flavor of Pacific Northwest berries. Pat Moore and his research team released the strawberry cultivars 'Puget Reliance' (1994) and 'Puget Summer' (1999) which had the third and fourth highest volume of commercial plant sales in Washington in 2004. The older WSU cultivars 'Rainier' (1972) and 'Shuksan' (1970) had the fifth and sixth highest plant sales. Washington was fifth in the US in strawberry production in 2003.
Meeker, a 1967 WSU release, continues to be the most widely planted raspberry in Washington with 67% of the commercial plant sales in 2004. The breeding program has recently released four new cultivars, 'Cascade Delight' (2003), 'Cascade Nectar' (2003), 'Cascade Dawn' (2005) and 'Cascade Bounty' (2005). 'Cascade Bounty' has attracted much interest as the first summer fruiting, machine harvestable raspberry for the Pacific Northwest with significant levels of tolerance to root rot. In 2004, Washington was the leading raspberry producer in the US with over 60 million pounds with a value of $46.6 million. More »
Recycled Organic Materials - New Mixes for Container and Garden Use
Nearly 80% of the plants produced in greenhouses and nurseries for landscape and interior use are grown in containers. Interdisciplinary research at WSU Puyallup led to the development of new potting and container mixes using 50% recycled organic material such as biosolids, dairy manure or yard waste, and 50% Douglas-fir bark. Rita Hummel and Craig Cogger compared various composts and biosolids against standard industry mixes as media for greenhouse and container production. Based on the results of this research, the City of Tacoma has developed and is marketing two new biosolids-bark products for container and garden use. More »
Conserving water is a practice of increasing importance in Washington state. Subirrigation has been shown to conserve as much as 80% of the water used in container plant production. Research in the greenhouses at WSU Puyallup demonstrated that many subirrigated plants were equal or superior to sprinkler irrigated plants. A combination of bark mulch and recycled yard waste compost was shown to conserve soil moisture, reduce weed growth, and improve the growth of trees and shrubs grown in replicated landscape plots. After four growing seasons in the landscape, the trees and shrubs continue to benefit from the bark mulch plus recycled yard waste compost treatments. Contact Rita Hummel for more information.
Stress and Pest Resistant Trees for Modern Landscapes
The space for growing trees in urban and suburban areas continues to shrink while public concern with issues of chemical pesticide use, water quantity and quality, urban air quality and passive energy conservation is on the increase. These trends magnify the need to plant small, stress tolerant trees in our communities. Unfortunately the inventory of small landscape trees that possess good tolerance of environmental and biological stresses is quite limited. A research project is currently underway to develop varieties of small-statured Pyrus (pear) and Acer (maple) trees that are tolerant of environmental and biological stresses and that have superior landscape characteristics. This is a cooperative project with the Landscape Plant Development Center (LPDC), a non-profit organization devoted to developing improved landscape plants through cooperative research with its participants at approximately 80 different institutions in North America, Europe and Asia. Contact Rita Hummel for more information.
Communities Coming Together to Celebrating the Harvest
WSU Small Farms Team members help to organize the Harvest Celebration Day each fall in 11 western Washington counties. In recent years, Stevens and Okanogan counties have also joined this effort, which uses hands-on activities to help consumers better understand their community food systems. Activities include farm tours, harvest dinners featuring locally grown foods, and demonstrations at sustainable agriculture research sites. More than 20,000 people participated in the Harvest Celebration in 2004. Team members raised more than $50,000 combined in cash and in-kind sponsorships from media sources and other companies to promote and produce the event. The event started with one county in 1998 and grew to 11 counties by 2004. More »
Small Farms Team members across Washington lead courses in the popular "Cultivating Success" series. These courses help current and prospective farmers build skills in sustainable production and innovative marketing techniques. This academic year, farmers in a dozen locations around the state will participate. To date, more than 500 students have enrolled in at least one course, and the partnership has brought nearly $1.75 million in federal and private funding to the region. More »
Meeting the Needs of Immigrant Farmers
Two members of WSU's Small Farms Program have been hired to meet the unique needs of two growing populations of Washington producers: Latino and Hmong farmers. Thanks to a partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency, we are developing new programs to meet the needs of immigrant farmers. More »
Increased Mustard Cropping Poses Multiple Benefits
Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) faculty members have helped expand the use of mustard as a green manure crop in irrigated potato rotations, benefiting soil quality, disease control, and nutrient cycling. Mustard cropping in Washington has increased from 400 acres in 1997 to over 23,000 acres in 2003.
New Water Treatment Reduces Sediment Loss
Through on-farm research and demonstration, CSANR faculty members helped spur the adoption of polyacrylamide (PAM), an Environmental Protection Agency-approved drinking water treatment for use in furrow irrigated fields. In testing PAM, CSANR demonstrated a 90 percent reduction in sediment loss. Now the practice is used on over half of rill-irrigated land in the state, saving one million tons of soil each year.
Anaerobic Digesters Result in Great Reduction of Carbon-Equivalent Emissions
Researchers in the Climate Friendly Farming Project are developing anaerobic digesters for manure, to capture methane that would otherwise be vented to the air. The practice, if applied on half of the state's dairy cows, could result in a 3 million-ton reduction of carbon-equivalent emissions. In addition, the practice could produce $9.5 million in renewable electricity, $17 million in renewable heat energy, $4 million in fiber, and $10.5 million in fertilizer.
Strong Partners, Strong Future
CSANR-affiliated faculty has supported the creation of grassroots organizations committed to enhancing the food and farming system. CSANR faculty secured the initial funding for Food Alliance, now one of the nation's premier ecolabeling programs. CSANR also helped to form the Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network, which educates consumers about sustainable agriculture.
Improving the Bottom Line
Each year, more organic and conventional producers alike plant new niche-market crops and adopt composting and cover cropping strategies, thanks to the outreach efforts of CSANR faculty. These farming practices have been developed through CSANR's Biologically Intensive Agriculture & Organic Farming (BIOAg) initiative. BIOAg not only helps farmers improve soil fertility and pest management, but also can reduce their input costs and open new markets for value-added products.
CSANR also helps growers understand the financial and environmental realities of transitioning to sustainable production. Washington leads the nation in apple production, and five percent of the state's apple orchards are now certified organic.
Soil Contamination Management
Past and current human activities have led to increased soil contamination with heavy metals and nutrient enrichment of surface water. To help improve the quality of life, Shiou Kuo's soils program is experimenting with a flotation technique to remove soluble Phosphorus (P) from surface water without leaving residues behind and/or further enriching sediments with P. Because of the strong affinity of metals with soil particles, remediation of metal-contaminated soils is difficult and usually very costly. To reduce the cost of the remediation, the program is experimenting with a chelate-assisted remediation technique to enhance the recovery of heavy metals from metal-contaminated soils.