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Sustainable Agriculture

View from above of two combines harvesting in a field
Photo: Jim Richardson
Washington State University and USDA-ARS scientists in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences identify and develop new ways to farm profitably and produce abundant, high-quality food, while enhancing the natural-resource base and environment and contributing to the well-being of farmers and their communities. We are a group of researchers, educators, and agricultural extension professionals working to answer big questions on how to make agricultural systems more sustainable in Washington State and beyond. We are training the next generation of agricultural leaders through hands-on experience and classroom learning. If you are already part of, or want to become involved in, the expanding world of sustainable agriculture, we think our program will serve your needs.



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.


Doug Collins in a field

Douglas Collins, ANR Program Unit

Doug Collins focuses on soil quality and production in organic farming systems including: reduced tillage, monitoring and managing soil fertility, and biological indicators of soil quality.


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.


Isaac Madsen

Isaac Madsen

My extension and research program focuses on oilseed production in Washington State. I can assist you with questions regarding oilseed production including stand establishment, winter survival, nutrient management and variety selection. Additionally, I am interested in alternative cropping practices such as oilseed-legume intercropping and dual purpose (grazing) winter canola.


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.


John Regenold

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.