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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

Experimental plots at Mount Vernon Long Term Agroecological Research and Extension project.

WSU Releases Roadmap for Soil Health Initiative

PULLMAN, Wash. — A 124-page “roadmap” that outlines current challenges and pathways to help maintain healthy soils as an agricultural and environmental resource has been released. Washington Soil Health Initiative, recently funded with a $2.1 million annual allocation from the Washington State Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee, is a partnership among Washington State University, the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Washington State Conservation Commission
A combine in a field during harvest.

WSU Awarded $10 Million to Increase Nutrition in Food Crops

PULLMAN, Wash. – An approach that promises to increase nutrition literally from the ground up, Washington State University’s Soil to Society project, recently received a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project takes a comprehensive approach to increase the nutrient value in food made from six crops – wheat, barley, peas, lentils, buckwheat, and quinoa. Soil scientists will work to improve the soil quality where they are grown. Plant breeders will develop more nutritional varieties while food scientists will create products to bring to market, and health researchers will evaluate the impact of those foods.
Portrait of Aichatou Waziri.

Fellowship Perfect Fit for Plant Breeding Student

Washington State University graduate student Aichatou Waziri wants to make healthier food through plant breeding. She’s working to boost micronutrients, such as iron and zinc, in existing crops like wheat and other grains around the world; a process called biofortification.
Field of wheat.

Measuring Electric Current in Soil Could Provide Answers on Soil Health

PULLMAN, Wash – Washington State University researchers have developed a way to assess soil health by measuring the electric current produced by its tiniest microbes. The team used a probe originally developed to measure the electrochemical signal of microbes in aquatic environments and tested it on healthy and unhealthy soil samples to measure microbial metabolism and other indicators of soil health. This proof-of-concept research, published in Journal of Electrochemical Society, could someday lead to a simple, real-time test for farmers to determine whether soil is productive.
Austrian pines that were burned in a fire.

Wildfire Claims WSU Lind Station’s International Collection of Pine Trees

A stand of nearly 100 pine trees collected from around the world survived 45 years at Washington State University’s Lind Dryland Research Station, before succumbing to wildfire in June.
WSU Variety Selection logo.

WSU Cereal Variety Selection Tool Going Mobile

For growers still considering their winter wheat variety options for fall 2021, there is a new mobile app they may want to check out. The WSU Variety Testing Program has just released a new mobile-friendly version of their cereal variety selection tool available wherever you get your apps. Like the desktop version of the app, growers can utilize the tool to filter and sort wheat and barley varieties based on a multitude of characteristics that are most important to them and their operation. Yield, test weight, grain protein, plant height, and maturity data are all generated from the variety trials themselves, and averages are generated by precipitation zone for all major classes of wheat and barley. Users can also screen varieties by other parameters that include winter survival, disease ratings, Hessian fly resistance, end-use quality, falling number ratings, and more.
Zhiwu Zhang.

Shining bright: CAHNRS Announces 2021 Faculty/Staff Award Winners

Zhiwu Zhang - Early Career Excellence Award - Dr. Zhang joined WSU as an assistant professor in 2014. Since that time, he has published 54 peer-reviewed articles, including four for Washington Wheat Life, and developed five software packages that are widely used by the scientific community. His novel ideas have resulted in 15 awards and grants, totaling over $2 million for his program and $6.3 million in collaborative research funding. He is ranked among the top 40 most cited researchers at WSU. Dr. Zhang developed a graduate-level course, Statistical Genomics, which he has taught for five semesters with excellent evaluations. His contributions in research and teaching have positioned WSU as one of the leading institutions in the development of statistical methods and computing tools for gene mapping and molecular breeding. He has served a number of professional roles including grant and journal article reviewer, academic journal editor, workshop organizer, and an invited speaker at several international venues. In 2015, he was awarded the Washington Grain Commission Distinguished Professorship for Statistical Genomics.
Drew Lyon at Lind Field Day.

Weed Scientist Known for Helping Others is New WSU Crop and Soil Science Chair

Solving problems and helping people is what led Drew Lyon into his career. This Washington State University weed scientist also loves figuring out how plants work. “Every weed is different, and it’s fascinating to learn how some of these plants adapt to survive,” said Lyon, WSU’s Endowed Chair in Small Grains Extension and Research, Weed Science. “I enjoy figuring out how we can manage those plants to make sure growers aren’t hurt economically by their presence.”
Logo for ARCS

WSU Ag Programs Highly Ranked in the World

US News and World Report places WSU at #30 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 #44 worldwide. For more information, go to the QS Worldwide list.