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

Northwest Scientists Defend Lentils from Root-Rotting Disease

In our snacks, salads and soups, lentils add a high-fiber, protein- and nutrient-packed punch. In Pacific Northwest farmers’ fields, lentils are a valuable crop that conserves water and replenishes the soil, making Washington the third-ranked lentil region in the U.S.

But the Northwest’s prized ‘superfood’ is threatened by root rot, a disease that stunts and discolors lentil roots, stems and leaves, shrinking harvests.

To protect lentils from this costly disease, scientists at Washington State University are hunting down the chief cause of root rot and developing resistant varieties as part of a multi-national, $3.4 million research project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“In bad years, lentil farmers can lose their entire crop to root rot,” said Rebecca McGee, co-project leader, research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and a WSU Crop and Soils Sciences and Horticulture adjunct scientist.

Scientist’s Involvement Helps Sensors Send Water to Crops, Right when they Need it

Helping farmers grow food using less water, Pete Jacoby, plant ecologist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, is advancing water-sensing research in his new role with the American Society of Agronomy.

Jacoby was recently named vice leader of the Society’s Sensor-based Water Management Community, which explores and shares research on water sensors, sensor-based irrigation, and how plants and the soil are affected by water and drought.

Dr. Davenport Receives the WERA-103 Leadership Award

Dr. Joan Davenport was awarded the WERA-103 Leadership Award at the 13th biannual Western Nutrient Management Conference on March 7th, 2019.

ASA, CSSA, SSSA Announce 2019 Future Leaders in Science Award Recipients

Award recipients were formally presented their award at a reception held during the annual ASA, CSSA, & SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 4, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. 2019 – The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) selected the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award. Halle Choi of Washington State University was one of 18 graduate students members who received the award in recognition of her interest and engagement in science advocacy. Award winners received a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Visits Day on March 5, where they met with their members of Congress to advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research.

ASA, CSSA, and SSSA are scientific societies based in Madison, WI, helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop, soil sciences, and related disciplines by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.

For more information on the 2019 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA award, including award descriptions and photo requests, contact Julie McClure, Science Policy Manager, 202-735-5904,

Healing Grain: Scientists Develop New Wheat that Fights Celiac Disease

Researchers at Washington State University have helped create a new, genetically distinct variety of wheat that’s safer for people with celiac disease, opening the door for new treatments and healing potential for the staple grain.

Biodegradable Plastic Mulch Could Help Environment, Increase Yield

U.S. agriculture uses about a billion pounds of plastic annually, and much of that material ends up in landfills, rivers, oceans and even our food, beverages and bodies.

Jessica Goldberger’s aim is to help farmers grow crops more sustainably and curb global dependence on wasteful, perpetual plastic.

Soil Scientist David Brown Named New AgWeatherNet Director

Washington State University soil scientist David Brown has been selected as the new director of AgWeatherNet, Washington’s agricultural weather network.

AgWeatherNet strives to help Washington growers and citizens understand and prepare for the challenges and changes that weather brings.

WSU Scientists Experimenting with Paper Mill Waste to Fight Soil Disease

ROCKFORD – Washington State University professor Tim Murray drove a white truck across a farm field where the winter wheat and rye look sick.

Murray scooped a cup of dirt and used a pH meter to test it. The meter revealed what has become alarming to farmers: The soil was as acidic as a cup of black coffee.

Soil acidification is killing crops at a slow but increasing rate in some places in Eastern Washington. It’s a long-term problem that’s caused by adding nitrogen to the soil to increase crop yield. Acidification causes compounds such as aluminum sulfate to form, which is deadly to crops. In the short term, farmers can’t justify the costs of traditional solutions like spreading limestone on the soil because it costs too much to transport.

Arron Carter, WSU professor and winter wheat breeder, said some acres on the Rockford farm are losing up to 60 percent of their yield.

Logo for ARCS

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.