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Washington State University to strengthen research-to-farming connection with newly endowed position

PULLMAN, Wash – The path of knowledge connecting university research labs to agricultural growers is being paved with a newly endowed position at Washington State University. Drew Lyon will be joining the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences as the Endowed Chair in Small Grains Extension and Research, Weed Science, starting Sept. 1.

Drew Lyon, New WSU Endowed Chair in Small Grains Extension and Research, Weed Science. Click image for a high-resolution version.

Lyon’s goal is to make WSU’s research-based information on small grains and weed control more accessible to farmers and easier to use.

“There’s good research being done at WSU,” Lyon said. “I want to make sure it’s getting out to the folks who need it and can use it.” With a broad spectrum of growers in Washington, Drew notes that he will need to employ different methods to reach them all, including meetings, publications and the Internet.

Understanding that research and extension are two-way streets, Lyon also wants to help feed information and experiences from the growers back to the researchers.

Lyon, currently professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is well suited to the challenge. His position at UNL is split 50/50 between research and extension, with responsibilities including the investigation and development of resource-efficient cropping systems for dryland crops with an emphasis on weed control, water management and soil conservation. With a Ph.D. in agronomy/weed science from UNL, his new position at WSU will allow him to bring more focus to weed control. Lyon’s “Crop Watch: Wheat” website features articles on wheat and weed control, as well as weekly updates on the wheat crop. His “Virtual Wheat Varieties Tour” provides Nebraskan wheat growers with information on the service that they value most from UNL: wheat variety testing. The site includes yield data, disease vulnerability, general descriptions and pictures of each variety, as well as a list of certified seed growers by variety.

Rich Koenig, chair of WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science, noted the significance of Lyon’s appointment. “WSU conducted an international search for the endowed chair, and Lyon was clearly the most qualified applicant. He has an outstanding record of program leadership, research and extension accomplishments in the area of cropping systems and weed science. He will continue WSU’s ‘World Class. Face to Face’ legacy by engaging farmers and translating science-based approaches to weed management into practice.”

This position, funded by the Washington Grain Commission, carries a 70 percent extension and 30 percent research appointment, with emphasis in dryland crops of eastern Washington.