Soil science alumnus Isaac Madsen chosen to lead WSU oilseed research

Head shot of Madsen
Isaac Madsen

Developing improved crops and practices for the Inland Northwest’s growing oilseed industry, alumnus and soil scientist Isaac Madsen is Washington State University’s new extension agronomist for the Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems program.

Hired Sept. 1, Madsen is based in Pullman, and leads WSU’s field-based testing program for oilseed crops, including canola, camelina, safflower, and sunflower. He will work alongside WSU scientists, Extension experts and Northwest growers to test and improve oilseed varieties and production methods that help diversify dryland farming in eastern Washington.

Sharing discoveries through workshops and field days, Madsen will support Northwest oilseed crops raised for oils used in cooking and industrial uses, and also those increasingly used for sustainable biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel.

A resident of Pullman, Wash., Madsen previously worked as an agricultural scientist at Sustainable Idaho and Shepherd’s Grain, where he studied alternative crops and soil health indicators for the inland Pacific Northwest.

Madsen holds a 2011 WSU bachelor’s degree in integrated plant science and a 2017 doctorate in soil science. His dissertation and subsequent postdoctoral research focused on canola fertility and alternative cropping systems in Pacific Northwest. He focused on the role of fertilizer on seedling root growth, which impacts stand establishment, a major challenge to canola production in the Washington.

As a postdoctoral researcher, Madsen was awarded Washington Canola Commission and WSU Biologically Intensive Agriculture & Organic Farming (BIOAg) grants to investigate canola establishment and innovative cropping systems in low rainfall zones. Low rain levels are one of the biggest barriers to wider canola production.

“Isaac brings hard-earned experience in canola research to this role,” said Ian Burke, professor at WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and director of the Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems program.

“Along with his research, Madsen brings expertise in canola fertility programs and placement, and has incredible root imaging skills. As a consulting agronomist, he truly values working with farmers across the region. I look forward to him developing the WOCS extension program around both the team and his own research.”

“For me, the most exciting part of this position is working with growers to develop innovative solutions for improving oilseed production in Washington,” said Madsen, who plans to prioritize WOCS outreach.

“I’m looking forward to ramping up research focused on canola stand establishment, winter survival, and intercropping, and I will be connecting with farmers through winter workshop field days, bulletins, email, and social media.”

Madsen will lead a session on oilseeds and roots at the annual Wheat Academy, Dec. 10, 2019, at WSU Pullman.

He is also organizing winter workshops focused on oilseed production for January 2020.

“I would love to hear from growers and partners interested in oilseed production, roots, or innovative production practices,” he said.

Learn more about oilseed research at WSU here:

Madsen speaks at field tour in canola fields