Crop and Soil Sciences

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University serves the Land Grant tradition by offering nationally competitive undergraduate and graduate education programs, conducting fundamental and applied plant and soil research, and extending the science of our disciplines to serve the public. Read more

CSS News & Updates

WSU Helps Map Quinoa Genome, Improve 'Super Food'
PULLMAN, Wash. – Discovery of the first high-quality genome of quinoa, published this week in Nature, could help create healthier, tastier varieties of this protein-packed “super food.” Popular in salads, side dishes and gluten-free recipes, quinoa is an edible seed that is low on the glycemic index, contains every amino acid – the building blocks of our body – and has an excellent balance of fiber, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. “Quinoa is like nothing else,” said Kevin Murphy, barley and alternative crop breeder at Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences ( “It grows well in many different environments and is a complete protein. If any crop deserves to be called a “super food,” it’s quinoa.”
Scientists Discover Perennial Hybrid of Wheat, Wheatgrass
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – With a hybrid crop called Salish Blue, scientists at Washington State University have combined wheat and wheatgrass in a new species with the potential to help Pacific Northwest farmers and the environment. Salish Blue is just one variety of a new perennial grain species, ×Tritipyrum aaseae. It’s the first new species to be named by wheat breeders at WSU in 122 years of breeding.
Grains Conference Looks to Rebuild Historic Cereal Economy
PULLMAN, Wash. – Neighbors thought he could never grow wheat and barley in a place that gets 82 inches of rain a year. But Evan Mulvaney knew his history. “The Chehalis Valley grew grain for years,” said Mulvaney, owner of Hidden River Farms near Montesano, Wash. “This was a big grain-producing area.” Historically, most local farmers grew small grains for the same reason Mulvaney does—to feed their livestock. Fields of yellow peas feed his pastured hogs, and their manure supplies his crops in turn, helping the soil and the environment. At the same time, he rotates wheat, barley and rye for a local distiller. Evan Mulvaney Farm “It made sense for us to start growing our own grain,” said Mulvaney, who will share his experiences at the fifth annual Cascadia Grains Conference, to be held Jan. 6 and 7 at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia.
Novel Gene Resists Toxic Wheat Disease that Costs Billions
PULLMAN, Wash. – Scientists at Washington State University and Kansas State University have isolated and cloned a gene that provides resistance to Fusarium head blight, or wheat scab, a crippling disease that caused $7.6 billion in losses in U.S. wheat fields between 1993 and 2001.
$2M Grant Funds Continuing WSU Research of Organic Quinoa
PULLMAN, Wash. – Scientists at Washington State University just completed four years determining the best varieties of organic quinoa for Pacific Northwest farmers to grow. A new grant will help researchers assess crop yields, prices and more to help growers turn a profit.
Biosolids - Understanding Benefits and Risks
Biosolids? Yes, that means sewage sludge. Well, sort of. But before you say YUCK and click off the page, let’s start with what they really are: biosolids are the materials produced from digestion of sewage at city wastewater treatment plants. They are rich in plant nutrients such as organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, and can be applied to wheat, alfalfa, and timber land for plant fertilization and soil conditioning. When biosolids are applied at rates that meet plant nutrient needs, farmers and researchers are seeing crop yields equal to or greater than those seen with synthetic fertilizer. Applying biosolids as fertilizer also allows them to be recycled for a useful purpose rather than disposed of in landfills or incinerated.
A Win-Win for Farmers and Slowing Climate Change
PULLMAN, Wash. – Climate change is already transforming agriculture in Washington. To help farmers deal with climate change, Bill Pan, a Washington State University professor of crop and soil sciences, is talking to them about ways to both adapt to changes and slow them down. “We want to work with growers to adapt their cropping systems to the inevitable climate changes so they can stay flexible to deal with those changes,” he said. “And we also want growers to know how they can mitigate and slow down climate change.”

WSU Ag Programs Highly Ranked in the World

US News and World Report places WSU at #36 for Best Global Universities for Agriculture Sciences. To see the US News list, click here. QS World University Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry places WSU at #45 worldwide. To see the QS Worldwide list, click here.