Friday, November 13, 2009

U of I News

Doug Barrie harvests wheat, August 2009--Putnam photo

Northwest Scientists Propose Regional,
Long Term Research on Dryland Agriculture

MOSCOW, Idaho – Scientists at Oregon State University, the University of Idaho and Washington State University want to take a long-term look at dryland agriculture and ways to sustain it in the Northwest's interior by establishing a single coordinated project to share expertise, research sites and computing power available from the three institutions.

The research would study farming's effects on soil carbon and soil management that may be affected by climate change and other factors.

To map out a long term agricultural project focused on non-irrigated wheat and other cereal crops, the team received a US Department of Agriculture grant for $200,000. If approved, the plan would lead to a multi-million dollar, decade-long project that would begin in about two years.

"This project will allow us to establish a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, long-term approach to sustaining agricultural productivity and the economic well being of the entire region," said Sanford Eigenbrode, a University of Idaho entomologist who will lead the project to design a long term monitoring network.

The team leadership includes Susan Capalbo and Steven Petrie of Oregon State University; James Gosz, Jodi Johnson-Maynard and J.D. Wulfhorst of the University of Idaho; and Hans Kok and Bill Pan of Washington State University.

The regional project will build on the collaborative momentum established by the USDA-funded STEEP or Solutions to Environmental and Economic Problems research and educational program,” Eigenbrode said.

If funded, the Interior Pacific Northwest Long Term Agricultural Project would become part of a new network of similar projects to be initiated throughout the USA, patterned after the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research network. That network includes just one site, Michigan State University's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, devoted to long term study of agroecosystems. The new network will address the important need to extend the long-term research infrastructure to include the diversity of U.S. agriculture.

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