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A Reinterpretation of Values

Posted by James Gonzalez | December 17, 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.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

What do I consider “valuable”? How do I determine what has worth and what doesn’t? Am I really in such a position that I can assign value to things? These are questions that I asked myself after attending this year’s Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a junior majoring in both organic agriculture systems and viticulture & enology at Washington State University in Pullman.

This year marks the third time I have attended the Tilth Producers conference in Washington. The first time I attended was in Yakima and the second time was in Vancouver. Both of my previous adventures at the conference left me filled with both knowledge and questions; questions that would eventually provide me with insight. This year turned out to be no different. Read more »

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Anaerobic digestion can be an excellent tool to convert waste into renewable energy; so why isn’t everyone using it?

Posted by Shannon Mitchell | December 2, 2015
See the linked WSU fact sheet above, "Anaerobic digestion effluents and processes: the basics" for more detailed information.

See the linked WSU fact sheet above, “Anaerobic digestion effluents and processes: the basics” for more detailed information.

Anaerobic digestion

For those of you less familiar with the terminology anaerobic digestion, let me first introduce this process. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is one option to treat concentrated organic waste streams, such as sewage sludge, manure, and food processing waste. The process is driven by anaerobic microorganisms, which means that microbes decompose the waste material while growing and reproducing in an environment void of oxygen. These organisms will die if oxygen is present. Anaerobic digestion is like composting, but instead of maintaining a good aerobic (with oxygen) compost pile, the organic waste is put in a completely sealed container void of oxygen (for more detail see the new WSU Fact Sheet: Mitchell et al., 2015). Read more »

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

Posted by Andrew McGuire | November 25, 2015

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), but today my goal is not warning, but thanksgiving. Here are some observations that we, the 98% should consider about the 2% of farmers, ranchers, growers, producers or whatever they would like us to call them.

Thank you to the producers of our feasts. Photo: Lauren M. via Flickr CC.

Thank you to the producers of our feasts. Photo: Lauren M. via Flickr CC.

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Early preparation for water transfers could reduce drought impacts for agriculture and fish

Posted by Georgine Yorgey | September 29, 2015

As this hot, dry summer winds down across Washington State, many areas are continuing to struggle with the impacts of drought.  (Those who would like a recap of August weather and drought conditions can see the WSU Drought Report here.)

Unfortunately, while the weather has become more fall-like, with welcome rain in some areas, all climate indicators point towards increased chance of warmer and somewhat drier than normal conditions through mid-2016 – as shown in the three month forecast from the Climate Prediction Center (see the maps below). Indicators consistent with this forecast include recent observations of a strong El Niño, forecasts of an 85% or greater likelihood of El Niño persisting through next spring, and a positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) signal[1]. Together, this all points to a likelihood of reduced snowpack this winter – and limited water availability again next summer and fall. Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Sustainability
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Lazy R Ranch: Holistic Management

Posted by Maria Donnay | July 21, 2015
June 2015 AC meeting at Lazy R Ranch.  Photo: T. Zimmerman

June 2015 AC meeting at Lazy R Ranch. Photo: T. Zimmerman

As an undergraduate intern at CSANR for the summer, I had the privilege to travel to Lazy R Ranch for our summer advisory committee (AC) meeting at the end of June. Maurice Robinette, long-time AC member, was gracious enough to host us at his ranch and share with us a taste (literally and figuratively) of his operation. To try to stay comfortable in the summer heat, we sat under the shade trees on the front lawn as Maurice and his daughter Beth shared with us the key element to their ranching success: holistic management. As the longest-standing example of holistic management in Washington State, the ranch serves as a learning site for the Pacific Northwest Center for Holistic Management, a Savory Institute Hub. Their farm, like many others in the northwest, is committed to seeking a more sustainable way of farming – sustainable for the land, animals, and people who live there.

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The Essentials of Sustaining Agricultural Production

Posted by Andrew McGuire | July 16, 2015

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 ways to sustain agriculture (a professor I know promotes the use of tee shirts that say “I’m an AGRONOMIST – look it up!”). In doing this, I have come to realize that there are certain requirements that agriculture must meet to produce food and to keep producing food (yes, fiber too, and other non-food products, but mainly we are concerned with food production). I view these as a hierarchy, such that if the top requirement is not attained, the lower requirements do not mean much, but once the top requirement has been met, we can move to the next one, provided that how we do it does not threaten any of the requirements above it. Each component is required, but not sufficient; all of them are needed. Read more »

CSANR Annual Report – 2014 in review

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 15, 2015
Kruger

CSANR Director Chad Kruger

In the early 1990s, leaders in Washington’s agriculture and food communities had the vision to create an incubator for sustainable and organic agriculture research and education at Washington State University (WSU). Now more than two decades later the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR) is a critical part of WSU’s sustainable agriculture efforts.  Thanks to the groundwork laid by those early visionaries (many of whom are still actively engaged), WSU is a place where students, faculty and partners eagerly engage in sustainable and organic agriculture research, extension and educational activities.

Read more »

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What is Holistic Agriculture?

Posted by Bertie Weddell | April 1, 2015
Carol Schaffer

Photo: C. Schaffer

Recently, I watched a TV program about rehabilitation of sloths illegally taken from the wild for the pet trade in Colombia. According to the narrator, the sloths were treated with holistic medicine. This puzzled me. I thought holistic medicine involved treatment of body, mind, spirit, and emotions. I couldn’t help wondering what we know about the mental, spiritual, and emotional life of sloths. 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 »

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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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