Washington State University’s newest farm, named for R. James Cook, was launched as a long-term direct-seed cropping systems research program by a team of WSU and USDA-ARS scientists in 2000.
The goals of the farm are to:
- Play a leadership role through research, education and demonstration in helping growers in the high-precipitation areas of the Inland Northwest make the transition agronomically and economically to continuous direct-seeding (no-till farming) of land that has been tilled since farming began near the end of the 19th century.
- Provide databases and understanding of the variable soil characteristics, pest pressures, and historic crop yield and quality attributes over a typical Palouse landscape as the foundation for the adoption and perfection of precision-agriculture technology in this region.
The farm is managed with continuous direct seeding techniques with commercial-scale equipment. Research is focused on developing direct seed cropping systems and precision-agriculture technologies for a “typical” eastern Palouse landscape where annual cropping is typically practiced. Guided by an Advisory Committee comprised of a diverse constituency, the research conducted at the Agronomy Farm will strive to develop new guiding principles and practices fundamental to reducing risks, increasing profits, conserving soil and other natural resources and improving environmental quality. The results will serve some 2.6 million acres in Washington and 1 million acres in Idaho, representing the higher-precipitation areas.