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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

Michael Walsh explains how impact mills are used on combines during a meeting of growers, WSU weed science researchers, and others at a farm near Pullman.

Australian professor shares herbicide resistance knowledge during WSU visit

A key to the battle against herbicide resistance in weeds could come from Down Under. Michael Walsh, an associate professor at the University of Western Australia, spent a week at the Washington State University Pullman campus this fall, discussing herbicide resistance and weed seed control with farmers in the surrounding region and giving a seminar to scientists in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Walsh thinks impact mills—physical weed seed control systems that attach to combines and are widely used in Australia—could hold promise for the Pacific Northwest. Drew Lyon, professor and endowed chair in small grains Extension and research, weed science, invited Walsh to WSU. Lyon describes Walsh as the “international expert” in harvest weed seed control.

WSU, FFA partner up to address Washington ag teacher shortage

Washington State University and FFA teamed up this fall for a statewide event designed to get high school and middle school students excited about careers in agriculture. Held last month, and covering nine Washington FFA districts, the Evergreen Leadership Tour spanned 1,400 miles and seven different stops at high schools and fairgrounds in locations ranging from Castle Rock to Colfax. More than 1,700 students and nearly 200 agriculture teachers attended, with many taking part in workshops presented by state FFA officers and WSU students.
Two combines in a field at night.

Harvest Time at Spillman Farm will be Easier with Gift of Combines

Generations of Coug students have worked under the hot sun harvesting test crops at Washington State University’s Spillman Agronomy Farm. At first they did the work by hand, cutting and gathering wheat, barley, pea, lentil and chickpea crops from small test plots. Specially-made combines for the research plots were an improvement, but they still were labor-intensive to operate. With the arrival of two new Zurn plot combine harvesters, students and faculty have access to similar technology, safety and comfort found in commercial rigs, said Arron Carter, a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the O.A. Vogel Endowed Chair of Wheat Breeding and Genetics. The machines cut, thresh, weigh and bag samples, with special features to prevent cross-contamination between plots. The Zurn 150 combines came to WSU thanks to the Washington Grain Commission, which approved the nearly $500,000 gift in 2021.
Tuffs of grass in a field.

Lawns for a Hot, Dry Future Tested at WSU Turfgrass Research Farm

Late summer has transformed Washington State University’s turfgrass research farm from waving meadows to dormant, golden stubble. But over in the corner, rows of a Pacific Northwest newcomer are tall and verdant despite summer’s heat. Deep-rooted and heat-loving, Bermuda grass is one of about a dozen experimental varieties at WSU’s new Perennial Grass Breeding and Ecology Farm. Here, researchers test candidates for the lawns of the future: grasses that stay soft and green under hotter climates or minimal watering and fertilizer. “One of our goals at the farm is to bring out new types of grasses that aren’t typically grown in our area,” said Michael Neff, farm director and professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “We want grasses that work for our soil, for farms and lawns, and for harsher environments.”

Graduate Students Accepted into Prestigious Fellowship

Four WSU graduate students recently earned acceptance into the prestigious Rockey FFAR Fellows Program. FFAR is the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Established by Congress in 2014, it is a non-profit corporation that funds pioneering research, health, sustainability, and agriculture. The Fellows Program was established to provide professional development and career guidance to the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. Fellows are co-mentored over a three-year program by university and industry experts. The program prepares a career-ready STEM workforce by having students from multiple disciplines work together and focuses on professional development and soft skills, like networking. The four WSU fellows are: Monica Crosby, School of Food Science; Madeline Desjardins, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences; Stephen Onayemi, Department of Entomology; and Riley Reed, Department of Entomology

STEM Opportunities Abound in Agriculture Fields

Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences explores and conducts research in plants, soils, and pests to identify best practices to improve crops and cropping systems. Crop and Soil Sciences strive to make foods safer, healthier, and more sustainable. The department provides a wide variety of opportunities for students seeking STEM degrees. Opportunities range from lab, field, technology, education, and greenhouse employment. The multidisciplinary education within crop and soil sciences allows students to learn a broad set of skills to take with them into the workforce.

New Guides from Extension: Weed Control, Dairy-Defending Raptors, and Hard Cider Chemistry

Learn how to control a pesky weed of grain and pulse crops, attract birds of prey to protect dairies, and view a first-of-its-kind study of the chemical properties of eastern Washington cider, with help from new and revised guides from WSU Extension. Found at the WSU Extension online store, the latest publications include: Integrated Management of Mayweed Chamomile in Wheat and Pulse Crop Production Systems (PNW695), Revised May 2022 Producing as many as 17,000 seeds per plant, mayweed chamomile is a troublesome weed in grain and pulse crops throughout the high-rain zones of the inland northwest. This guide shares integrated management approaches to help in long-term, sustainable control. Authors include Extension Small Grains Weed Science Professor Drew Lyon; WSU Research Weed Scientist Ian Burke; Oregon State University Extension Weed Science Specialist Andrew Hulting; and University of Idaho Weed Science Research/Instruction Associate Joan Campbell.
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.