We are halfway through our Soil to Society series, so let’s do a quick recap. Following along the Soil to Society pipeline, this grant is working to identify soil-conscious cultivation practices with the Soil and Cropping Systems team, breed varieties of wheat, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, lentils, and peas with the Plant Breeding team, and engineer products that utilize these nutrient rich crop varieties with the Food Science team. Now, we must determine whether the more nutritious varieties correlate to better health outcomes in human consumers.
Implications of Shifting Timing in Water Availability in Eastern Washington
Posted by Aaron Whittemore | September 12, 2023
The Columbia River Basin has grappled with limited water supplies for decades. This was most noticeable during 2015, when we experienced severe summertime drought across large areas of Washington State, which reduced the amount of water available to meet the region’s demands. The 2015 drought and other recent occurrences of lower water availability are representative of a warmer future with lessening snowpack and earlier snowmelt. In fact, Washington is expected to experience drought again this summer due to rapidly melting snowpack and low precipitation forecasts, underscoring the prevalence of water supply issues for the state.
Although I work in irrigated agriculture, the views on my morning commute are all sagebrush, or the shrub-steppe as this native plant community is called. And cheatgrass, a lot of cheatgrass. Where there have been recent fires, stands of cheatgrass thrive. Sagebrush, the iconic plant of the shrub-steppe ecosystem, is having a hard time. The combined effects of fire frequency, climate change, and cheatgrass invasion have made sagebrush recovery an uphill battle. Will the shrub-steppe recover to its former subtle beauty, or should we get used to the cheatgrass prairie?