Posted by Chad Kruger | February 10, 2014
Interest in “soil quality” (a.k.a. soil health) has grown rapidly over the past decade regardless of agricultural production system or geographical region. While there have been focused efforts on soil conservation in the past, there seems to be a growing consensus that agriculture at large has historically undervalued the important role that soils can play in improving sustainability. Some of these functions include disease suppression, nutrient cycling, and water management. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | January 30, 2014
Washington State apples are known worldwide. The 2012 crop set a record at 120 million boxes (40-lb) and sales were brisk at good prices due to the freeze-out of much of the production in the eastern U.S. In that year, Washington’s production was 70% of all apples in the US. What is even more remarkable is that by January each year, 75-90% of all apples in storage in the US are in Washington, meaning we are by far the dominant supplier to our domestic market. These numbers are even higher for organic apples. Read more »
Filed under Organic Farming
Posted by Chad Kruger | December 11, 2013
My colleague Chuck Benbrook posted a fascinating article this week summarizing his recent paper that evaluates how organic milk impacts human nutrition. If you haven’t read it, you should. In the comments of Chuck’s post, another colleague Andy McGuire inquires and Chuck confirms, the likely reason organic milk is nutritionally superior to conventional milk is the composition of the feed ration (i.e., more grass).
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | December 9, 2013
Dozens of studies, most of them conducted in Europe, have shown higher levels of health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids in organic milk compared to conventional milk, as well as lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids. The National Institutes of Health, in a factsheet on omega-3 fatty acids, reports that:
“Most American diets provide more than 10 times as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. There is general agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health.”
Posted by David Granatstein | November 3, 2013
In the 1970s, I was part of the “back to the land” movement and very interested in organic farming as the solution to sustainability problems in agriculture. At that time, organic was close to invisible on the agricultural and food landscape. In spite of this, many of us strived toward “the whole world being organic.” A lot has changed since then; and a lot has not. Organic has undergone exponential growth in the marketplace, with increases in both the number of farmers and the land area involved. Organic is still a small fraction of the market, however, and many of the problems we saw decades ago still persist. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | August 27, 2013
While most consumers may choose organic foods for their potential health characteristics (e.g., lower chance of pesticide residue and potentially greater nutrient value), these same consumers generally believe that organic farming is “good” for the environment and thus worth supporting. But is the assumption of environmental benefit correct? And is there a cost? Let’s take a look at how the newer studies compare to older research findings. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | August 15, 2013
The dog days of summer have arrived in Eastern Washington – with daily temps reaching the high 90s every day. This is the second extended stretch of heat in the region this year. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | August 8, 2013
I know that many residents of Washington were extremely concerned to learn about the discovery of glyphosate-tolerant wheat in an Oregon farm field this spring. WSU’s Agricultural Research Center released a news update today indicating that the glyphosate-tolerant gene was NOT discovered in any of the WSU breeding lines (commercialized or in development) nor in other tested lines developed by regional universities and companies. While it’s still not clear how this incident happened, this is certainly great news for the region. Also, I think it is really important to note how rapidly and extensively our breeding programs and administration responded to this concern to protect the interests of the state and our wheat producers.
More detail is available here.
Posted by Andrew McGuire | June 27, 2013
Here is the secret to building soils – manure and diverse crop rotation. Underwhelmed? Researchers in Iowa (Delate et al, 2013) came to this conclusion after conducting ten years of field research. Only this wasn’t their conclusion.
Filed under Organic Farming, Perspectives on Sustainability, Sustainability, Sustainable Practices and Technology
Posted by Marcy Ostrom | May 7, 2013
At Klickitat Canyon Winery and Meadowlark Vineyard, designing a resilient farming system begins with native habitat restoration. Owners Robin Dobson and Kathleen Perillo say they will know they have succeeded when the Meadowlark returns to nest under their vines. Read more »