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Lincoln Sixth Graders to Make Paper From Straw

PULLMAN, Wash. — Twenty-five sixth graders from Lincoln Middle School will make paper from wheat straw during a field trip to Washington State University’s crop and soil sciences department on Friday.

The experience is designed to demonstrate applications of science and technology in solving complex problems plus show different perspectives on a controversial issue, according to Bill Pan, professor of crop and soil sciences.

Conservation tillage systems used by wheat growers leave more wheat stubble on and near the surface of the soil than moldboard plows. While this helps prevent soil erosion, too much straw can impede growth of next year’s crop and serve as a source for plant disease pathogens.

Wheat produces three to five tons of straw per acre.

Field burning of wheat stubble — one solution — has been opposed by clean air activists and public health groups.

Students of Julie Clark’s sixth grade will discuss the issue in class on Thursday. On Friday they will make paper from wheat straw, a solution to the environmental problem being explored in Pan’s Nutrient Cycling and Rhizosphere Ecology Laboratory.

WSU and University of Washington scientists are working together to evaluate the fiber quality of wheat straw in the Pacific Northwest for potential use for making liner board and paper.

(EDITORS: You are invited to send a representative. The class will be in Pan’s lab in 122 Johnson Hall from about 9:45 a.m. to noon on Friday. Contact Bill Pan at (509) 335-3611 or Dennis Brown at (509) 335-2930 for more information.)

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