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

Dryland Partnership Pays Off with Record-Breaking Wheat Contest Win
For more than a hundred years, Washington State University wheat breeders have worked side-by-side with Washington’s dryland farmers to develop new wheat varieties that thrive in the state’s driest regions.
That century-long partnership is paying off. WSU-bred winter wheat claimed the state yield title and placed fifth in the nation in the National Wheat Foundation’s 2017 dryland winter wheat yield contest.
Franklin County farmer Brian Cochrane grew 92 bushels per acre on a five-acre plot near Kahlotus, Wash., benefitting from record autumn rainfall to blow past the county average of 32 bushels an acre.

Bread Lab Director Stephen Jones Earns Pellegrini Award
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Stephen Jones, director of the Washington State University Bread Lab and professor of Crop and Soil Sciences, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Angelo Pellegrini Award.

Given annually by the Pellegrini Foundation, the award remembers Angelo M. Pellegrini, the late University of Washington English professor and author who championed healthful, homegrown food, good wine and good company.
(Photo by Salinas Holcomb)

Research to Feed the Future
Passion and compassion aren’t synonymous, but in the case of molecular plant sciences doctoral student Nathan Grant, the two provide the synergy for his research and future career goals. Working side-by-side with his faculty mentor, Dr. Kulvinder Gill, Nathan is helping develop a heat-tolerant variety of wheat that could be grown in some of the world’s most hot and hunger-challenged regions of the world.

As an undergraduate student at Washington State University, Nathan didn’t believe he had what it took to be a doctoral student. He had been working in a laboratory during his undergraduate work—first just washing dishes, then mapping genes—but he still didn’t equate that to doctoral research ability. So when his advisor and wheat geneticist, Kulvinder Gill, invited him to stay on for a doctoral program after he completed his bachelor’s degree, Nathan was surprised.

Flury Protects Crops, Environment as First Gaylon S. Campbell Distinguished Professor
For generations, scientists at Washington State University have studied how water, soil and air interact to produce healthy crops and communities and a thriving environment.

Markus Flury continues that work as the first Gaylon S. Campbell Distinguished Professor.

As Distinguished Professor, Flury will build on retired WSU professor Campbell’s research and teaching legacy to refine our understanding of how plants interact with their environment. This knowledge will ultimately improve the way we raise crops for biofuels, food, and fiber.

Clif Bar & Company and King Arthur Flour Announce $1.5 Million Organic Endowment for Washington State University’s Bread Lab
EMERYVILLE, Calif. (Jan. 31, 2018) – Clif Bar & Company and the King Arthur Flour Company today announced the funding of a $1.5 million endowment for organic grain breeding research in Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). This is Clif Bar’s second and King Arthur’s first public university endowment dedicated to developing crop varieties adapted to organic farming practices.

The Clif Bar & King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding & Innovation is being awarded to Stephen Jones, Ph.D., director of the WSU Bread Lab, through a combination of $850,000 from lead funder Clif Bar, $500,000 from King Arthur Flour and $150,000, ranging from donations of $100 to $75,000, from nine individuals and two organizations. The investment enables CAHNRS to continue organic grains research at the WSU Bread Lab, and ensures the research can continue at the university in perpetuity.

Organic Ag Major Expands to Western Washington
EVERETT, Wash. – Western Washington residents now have the option to earn a Washington State University degree in organic agriculture—in their own back yard.
Starting with the spring 2018 semester, WSU will offer an organic ag major at the WSU Everett campus.
“There are a lot of people who have families, jobs, or other factors that keep them from moving across the state to eastern Washington,” said John Reganold, WSU Regents professor of Soil Science & Agroecology. “This allows them to get their degree without moving, and to learn from our world-class teachers and researchers.”
WSU Alum Awarded for Career Working to End Hunger and Malnutrition
Thomas Lumpkin wants to feed the world.

A simple premise, but an incredibly challenging goal. One that set Lumpkin on a career path which produced new agricultural innovations and led to international leadership positions.

In November, Washington State University honored Lumpkin and his career with an Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award given out by the WSU Alumni Association. Fewer than 550 people have received this award since its inception in 1970, from a pool of over 250,000 WSU alums.

Seeds of Knowledge: Researchers Explore Genetic Secrets of Plant Growth
Her only tools a wooden toothpick and her own steady hands, Shelby Westenskow maneuvers a reddish-brown seed, smaller than a grain of sand, into place on a circular dish of clear, sticky gel.

“It’s getting down to basics — just me, a toothpick, and a seed,” said Westenskow, a doctoral student researcher in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University.

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.

This is an image of the 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.