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Happy Holidays, Hay Fire Danger, Xeriscaping, Voice of the Vine

Posted by | December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!

We’re breaking out our snowshoes and heading for the four corners of the compass over the next couple of weeks. We’ll return to our computers and our regular publishing schedule with the January 9 issue. From all of us at On Solid Ground, happy holidays!

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

Flood-dampened Hay Poses Serious Fire Risk

Stored hay dampened by flooding in southwestern Washington poses a serious risk for spontaneous combustion, according to two Washington State University experts.

Moisture both reduces the hay’s quality and can create microbial growth and chemical reactions that could result in fire, according to WSU associate crop scientist Steve Fransen and Skagit County Extension educator Ned Zaugg.

“Once the bale temperature reaches about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the hay is on a one-way street and going in the wrong direction,” said Fransen. “Above that temperature more heat-resistant bacteria start chemical changes that rapidly increase temperatures to the point of spontaneous combustion. When the bale temperature reaches 150 to 160 degrees, it’s time to take immediate action.”

For more information, including early warning signs and action steps, please see the informational paper by Fransen and Zaugg:

Be aware of the risks of spontaneous combustion in flood-dampened hay.

Be aware of the risks of spontaneous combustion in flood-dampened hay.

Water-wise Landscaping

There is more to landscaping than pretty plants. Sustainable park design, drought-tolerant trees and proper watering to prevent turf diseases are just a few of the topics that will be addressed at this year’s WSU Turf, Tree and Landscape conference.

More than 400 people from Washington, Idaho, Montana and other locations are expected to attend the conference Feb. 7 and 8 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

The conference will focus on the importance of water conservation and how to effectively conserve, said Tonie Fitzgerald, WSU Spokane County extension educator and conference creator. Keynote speaker Tim Wilson from H2O Solutions will speak on how water conservation makes economic sense for the landscape industry.

“Every year, we try to focus on some theme and aspect that affects everyone,” Fitzgerald said. “Water is something that affects all of us.”

Steven Link, associate scientist at WSU Tri-Cities and extension educator for natural resources and ecology, will speak about xeriscaping, an environmentally friendly form of landscaping that uses drought-tolerant plants. He will focus on using native plants in xeriscaping.

“We’re going to have trouble with water in the future,” Link said. “The more efficient we can learn to become, the better it will be for everyone.”

For more information on the conference, please visit:

Adapted from an article by Jessica Fitts, WSU Today intern.

Xeriscaping conserves water without sacrificing aesthetics.

Xeriscaping conserves water without sacrificing aesthetics.

Voice of the Vine

We’d like to invite On Solid Ground readers to be among the first to subscribe to our newest project, Voice of the Vine.

Voice of the Vine is a biweekly e-newsletter covering WSU’s viticulture and enology program, including research, outreach and education, as well as our alumni connections to the wine industry in Washington and beyond. Expect the premier issue in your email inbox on January 10.

Each issue will feature one or two short news stories, with links to interviews, videos and further information.

Subscribe today at

You're invited!

You’re invited! Subscribe today to Voice of the Vine