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Space Farming is Science FICTION

Posted by Andrew McGuire | March 27, 2015
The future of agriculture? Photo: A. S. Guerreirinho

The future of agriculture? Photo: A. S. Guerreirinho

It said on the screen, “Bioregenerating Soil-Based Space Agriculture.” The title of the talk was “Beyond Intensification.” The speaker, a prominent researcher and prolific author, someone who I thought would present clear thinking on how, in addition to intensification of current agriculture, we can go about producing enough food for the earth’s growing population.  I glanced around to see if anyone else was astonished.  Space farming, he said, was the next step after agricultural intensification with food coming from the Moon and Mars. “Has it come to that?” I thought.

I am a fan of science fiction, not a costumed, Trekkie-conference fan, but a fan. However, over the years, I have realized that the stories I enjoy most are mostly fiction; the science is often ignored. This is “soft” science fiction, the stuff of most Sci-Fi movies because there is a way to visit distant planets; think warp drives on the Enterprise, a hyperdrive in the Millennium Falcon, and wormholes in Interstellar. Read more »

Thinking ahead: the future of farming

Posted by Rachel Wieme | March 23, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We have been posting reflections written by the students over the last few months.  This is the last post in the series. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Rachel Wieme, guest student blogger

Rachel Wieme, guest student blogger

The Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference provides the unique opportunity for farmers, industry representatives, scientists, and educators to gather for a weekend of inspiring conversations and idea sharing, and I was looking forward to attending the Tilth conference this year for a second time since starting graduate school at WSU in 2012. This year’s conference was a very different experience for me compared to my first one two years ago, and I think that was largely due to the different perspective and experiences I’ve gained through my graduate program at WSU – an interdisciplinary National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) program focused on training scientists to be able to work at the interface of science and policy, effectively communicating science to bridge the gaps between scientists, stakeholders, and policy makers. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Is this the new climate normal?

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 11, 2015
Patchy snow at the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area in February 2015 exemplifies the lack of snow in the Cascades. Photo: S. Ringman, Seattle Times.  Accessed via P. Stevens https://flic.kr/p/qegBhX

Patchy snow at the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area in February 2015 exemplifies the lack of snow in the Cascades. Photo: S. Ringman, Seattle Times. Accessed via P. Stevens https://flic.kr/p/qegBhX

I will remember winter 2014-2015 as the winter of seemingly never-ending fog, and snow that didn’t stick. That sucks on so many levels, particularly for what it will mean come July and August when we have a serious water problem in the Inland Northwest. I keep getting asked “is this climate change” and “is this what we have to look forward to?” Read more »

Does an anaerobic digester cost too much?

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 9, 2015
Photo: Derrick Story

Photo: D. Story

Anaerobic digestion (AD) with methane capture and conversion is the most straight-forward, bankable strategy for reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it is the only agricultural carbon mitigation strategy that has achieved wide-spread acceptance in a variety of voluntary and mandatory carbon mitigation policies. In a sense, it is the closest thing to a “silver bullet” carbon mitigation solution that exists in agriculture. However, AD still has limited overall market penetration in US livestock production systems, in large part because of the perception that it is really expensive technology. Read more »

Embracing Value-Added, Evidence-Based Diversity Across the Food Industry is Good for Business

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 25, 2015

Benefits of Org Ag BenbrookIf you ask any brand manager, company executive, or corporate board member what a company’s most valuable asset is, the answer is always the same – consumer trust, and the marketplace loyalty grounded in that trust.

Whether selling cars, computers, or potato chips, both trust and market share are difficult to earn and easily lost.

Maintaining consumer trust does not occur in a vacuum. Aggressive, young sharks (i.e., competitors) are always eager to move up the food chain, and the unexpected must be expected – and dealt with adroitly, to prevent a slip from starting a long, slow slide.

Think of all the sweat equity, and public and private investment capital that has flowed into U.S. Ag Inc. over the last half-century, making our food and fiber system the envy of the world, or so the story goes.

Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Organic Farming
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Sustainability at Tilth Producers of WA Conference

Posted by James Gonzalez | February 13, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Gonzalez

James Gonzalez – student guest blogger

“My goal is for people to visit my farm in a decade and not be able to recognize it as agriculture.” This is a quote from Don Tipping and is one of the most interesting things I heard at this year’s Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. I should introduce myself as well. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a sophomore at WSU Pullman.

This year marks the second time I have attended the Tilth Producers conference in Washington. Last year I attended in Yakima, and enjoyed every minute of it. I knew before the end of that one, that I would need to attend the next, and most likely every subsequent, conference. That is why I was ecstatic to head to Vancouver, WA the first weekend of November.

The trip there was long and full of extremely interesting and insightful conversations with my peers. After a stop for dinner in Hood River and a mug of draft root beer, we finally arrived and checked into our hotel. After some internet surfing to remind myself which sessions I was planning to attend, it was time for some shut-eye. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Innovation sparks excitement and engagement

Posted by Kyle Brown | February 9, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Kyle Brown - student guest blogger

Kyle Brown – student guest blogger

My name is Kyle and I’m currently studying organic agriculture systems at WSU.  Recently I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Washington Tilth Producers Conference in Vancouver, WA.  Let me tell you, it was well worth the time spent.  The conference provided plenty of ideas and information and I left with a reassurance that organic agriculture is thriving and here to stay. Hopefully I can share a little of the excitement with you! Read more »

Sustainable agriculture’s key component? Happiness.

Posted by Zack Frederick | January 6, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Zack Frederick is a second-year student pursuing PhD in Plant Pathology 

Zack Frederick - student guest blogger

Zack Frederick – student guest blogger

The Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference represents a unique opportunity for all. This year, while I expected research presentations, I was surprised by an unusual theme: happiness. More specifically, happiness at the nexus of three points: sustainable organic agriculture, doing what you love, and with a reliable income. Many presentations covered one of these three, but the majority that I attended covered two or all three.

At Tilth, presentations promoted organic agricultural practices that are mindful of environmental and social contexts both on and off the farm. Those like me who fancy being a plant pathologist one day could find many presentations on topics of disease management practices. In theory, these are familiar waters, except that presenters challenged me to consider new environmental and social perspectives. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Training the next generation of farmers

Posted by Bethany Wolters | December 18, 2014

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Bethany Wolters - student guest blogger

Bethany Wolters – student guest blogger

If you want to get me excited about something, mention food, farming, or teaching.  I am studying to be an agriculture professor and am currently a soil science master student at Washington State University, learning everything I can about growing vegetables, healthy soils and teaching.  At the beginning of November I had the opportunity to attend the Washington Tilth Producers Conference in Vancouver, WA. One of the events I participated in was a workshop called “The Next Generation of Farmers and Eaters: Changing the Food System through Education.”  It was presented by Stuart O’Neill, who organizes an on-farm internship program in Oregon called Rogue Farm Corps, and Elizabeth Wheat, who is a Whidbey Island farmer and lecturer at University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Wheat talked about her experiences introducing agriculture to students at an urban university and their campus farm.  I came away from the presentations and discussion inspired to re-image how agricultural education fits into higher education. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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The healing power of soil

Posted by Alison Detjens | December 15, 2014

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Alison Detjens - student guest blogger

Alison Detjens – student guest blogger

Tilth Producers of Washington has been holding yearly gatherings for 40 years. The annual conference brings together farmers, interns, intermediaries, educators and food activists for a three day long celebration of sharing knowledge and ideas.

Some of the workshops are technical, providing best practices or innovative ideas; others focus on community and health. One of the workshops I attended this year spoke of a farm that bridges the social and physical aspects of food and farming in a profound, yet simple way: a farm dedicated to working with veterans of war to help heal and reintegrate men and women into civilian society. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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