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Science in action to improve the sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and food systems
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Author: Andrew McGuire

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Comparing effects of herbicides, fertilizers, and tillage on the soil

In a past post, I argued for the use of an herbicide instead of tillage to kill a soil-building cover crop. My post was mostly…

Crop rotation: In praise of deliberate, sequenced disruption of natural systems

For years, researchers have been looking to polycultures, biodiversity in space, as a way to improve agriculture (Trenbath 1974; Tilman et al. 1997; Cardinale et…

The New Urban Indoor Industrial Agriculture… but Why?

There is a new style of urban agriculture appearing around the world. The efforts differ in details, but they all use buildings or structures not…

The Fallout of October Rains in the Desert

Here in the Columbia Basin, something extraordinary has happened; it rained a lot in October. Although not technically a desert, we are normally desert-like from…

Defending the Proper Use of Monoculture

Many bloggers have it wrong, Wikipedia had it wrong, and when I found that Agronomy Journal got it wrong, I was compelled to write on…

The Benefits of Combining Organic and Synthetic Nitrogen Sources

Dan Sullivan, OSU soil scientist, caught my attention during his presentation at the 2014 Building Soils for Better Crops workshop. Speaking about organic amendments and…

Organic Farming Provides Ecosystem Service and Solves Weed Problems

In nearly all surveys of organic farmers their top priority for research is weed control. Weeds are a tough problem to solve, but with creativity…

We are the 98%. Thanks to farmers and ranchers, from the rest of us.

Just 2% of our population are farmers. Perhaps this should cause us as much concern as the 99-1% divide (highlighting economic inequality in our country),…

The Essentials of Sustaining Agricultural Production

As a member of the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, I work as an irrigated cropping systems agronomist working on…

Monoculture vs. Polyculture Part II: “Straight up” beats “cocktails” for cover crop ecosystem services

Cover crop mixtures, known as “cocktails” by some, are being promoted as having benefits over cover crops planted as monocultures. As I described in Part…
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