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.

CSS News & Updates

Western Innovator: Giving Canola Farmers a Voice
RICHLAND, Wash. — Every time Karen Sowers drives to Pullman from the Tri-Cities and sees the same fields planted in wheat, she wishes she could talk to the farmers about the benefits of raising canola.

An Washington State University Extension and outreach specialist in oilseeds, Sowers wants to make canola a staple for growers, not something they just think about when wheat prices are down.

Using canola as a possible rotation crop helps farmers deal with residual herbicides, weeds, improve water filtration and breaks up disease cycles, she said.

Plant for the Future
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.

Trained as a botanist and now a professor of molecular biology at Washington State University, Neff expands on why this is important: “If we’re going to be resilient in the face of climate change—or whatever the world is going to throw at us—we need those genetic resources.”

Pacific Northwest Canola Association Begins First Steps
Canola acreage in Washington, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest has reached record levels this year, and interest from producers who have never grown the crop before continues to increase.

The Northwest is the only canola production region in the U.S. without a canola association, so a concerted effort to form one began earlier this year during WSU Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems workshops.

New video published: “Spring Canola Production in Eastern Washington”
Our project collaborated with the CAHNRS Communications video team to produce a video about spring canola production that is now available on YouTube. The three cooperators who hosted the WOCS 2016 large-scale spring canola variety trials were interviewed for the video, and there is also drone footage of the plots at each location. The video can be found on the WSU CAHNRS YouTube channel, or by clicking on this link: A companion video “Canola Production and Research in Washington State” was published in 2014 and features more detailed information about the WOCS Project.

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WSU Ag Programs Highly Ranked in the World

US News and World Report places WSU at #36 for Best Global Universities for Agriculture Sciences. For more information, go to the US News list. QS World University Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry places WSU at #45 worldwide. For more information, go to the CS Worldwide list.