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Agricultural Systems

fields in the Palouse region
The Agricultural Systems program focuses on designing and assessing whole agricultural systems and their key components. This research uses field trials and monitoring in conjunction with modeling to explain and improve our understanding of system functions and impacts. Many of our projects compare and characterize alternative systems or components in order to provide information to guide the evolution of agriculture toward improved efficiency, productivity, and sustainability.



Colin Campbell with fields behind him

Colin Campbell, Decagon Devices

My current research focuses on water availability to plant processes in the soil/plant/atmosphere and its role in plant species progression and dormancy along with water conservation. Paramount to this effort is the conversion of sensor measurements to actionable information, so these projects include interdisciplinary collaboration between ecology, agriculture, environmental biophysics, and bioinformatics. The goal of this work is to provide stakeholders with better understanding upon which to base critical environmental decision-making.


Lynne Carpenter Boggs in a lab coat

Lynne Carpenter-Boggs

I conduct research in sustainable and organic agriculture, with an emphasis on biological soil fertility. Current project areas include life cycle analysis of farming, management for soil health, mycorrhizal colonization of alternative crops, acid-tolerant rhizobia, and compost tea.


 Steve Fransen

Steve Fransen

Steve Fransen continues to work with perennial warm-season grasses as biofuel and forage utilization. A larger USDA funded study will be completed in 2016 involving intercropping switchgrass cultivars into stands of hybrid poplar at GreenWood Resources at Boardman, OR. We found higher land equivalent ratios (LER) through intercropping than growing trees or grass in monoculture. Recently winter canola is part of his research focus with several studies focused on dual-purpose, forage and seed, use of August planted winter canola under irrigation. So far we’ve found greater economic return when managing winter canola for dual-purpose even through grain yields were lower than monoculture grain production. These studies will continue through 2017.


Jessica Goldberger

Jessica Goldberger

I specialize in the sociology of agriculture and food systems. My research focuses primarily on agricultural knowledge, science, and technology. I am interested in the sources of agricultural knowledge; the adoption and diffusion of agricultural innovations; and the ways in which agricultural beliefs, choices, and practices affect community well-being, sustainability, rural quality of life, food security, and the environment.


Deirdre Griffin.

Deirdre Griffin LaHue

My research focuses on the impacts of agricultural practices (e.g. cover cropping, tillage, amendments, rotations) on soil health and the soil organisms that facilitate many of the functions we look for in a healthy soil, including strong aggregate structure, efficient cycling of nutrients and carbon, and disease suppression. I take a systems approach to understand processes occurring at the micro-scale, such as microbial community shifts, nutrient dynamics, or changes in carbon pools, and to link them to outcomes at the field-scale to develop soil management strategies that will improve the productivity, profitability, and long-term resilience of our cropping systems. I am also working to identify regionally-relevant benchmark values of soil health indicators to track progress towards improved soil sustainability.


Dave Huggins, USDA-ARS

Dave Huggins is Director of the Cook Agronomy Farm Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) site and Co-Director of the Pacific Northwest Climate Hub. His research is in the area of Conservation Farming and Agroecology focusing on nitrogen use efficiency, carbon sequestration and overall agroecosystem performance.


Kevin Murphy kneeling and looking at barley plots.

Kevin Murphy

My program, the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab, is focused on the breeding and agronomy of barley, quinoa, millet, spelt, and perennial wheat. We work closely with farmers on regional to international scales to develop high yielding, nutritionally dense seed crop varieties for a diversity of cropping systems.


Clark Neely

Clark Neely

My research and extension program focuses on identifying production systems and practices that maximize economic returns for dryland producers in central and eastern Washington. I am interested in evaluation of basic agronomic practices for wheat and other common crops across the region as well as looking at alternative crops and how they fit into cropping rotations. I am also interested in the role soil plays in cropping systems and how we can improve their productivity through nutrient management, water capture and storage, and building organic matter.


Haly Neely sitting at a desk.

Haly Neely

The goal of our lab is to quantify the interaction of soil, water, and plants at the field-scale to improve soil health and ecosystem resilience. Research activities can be grouped under two areas: 1) conserve water and protect the soil through soil health promoting practices and, 2) using sensor technology to quantify spatial soil moisture dynamics.


John Reganold

John Reganold

My research utilizes on-farm techniques for assessing the sustainability of contrasting farming systems. I have successfully measured the sustainability of alternative (biodynamic, integrated, no-till, organic, and perennial-grain) and conventional farming systems on more than 100 farms on four continents. Sustainability indicators measured include soil quality, productivity, financial performance, environmental quality, and social wellbeing.