Helpful Bugs Take a Bite Out of Invasive Weeds
No matter where you live in Washington State, there are invasive weeds that plague the land, from the smallest of backyards to the largest of farm acreage. A great deal of research is looking at alternative ways to control weeds, rather than using chemical sprays that could end up in our rivers or groundwater aquifers. One of the most promising methods is the use of biological controls: the introduction of insect species that destroy targeted weeds.
Foster Creek Conservation District, based in Waterville, has teamed up with WSU Extension and Douglas County to provide farmers and ranchers with invasive-weed-devouring insects. This effort is part of a comprehensive weed-control program that includes cultural controls and planting competitive beneficial plants. Farmers in Douglas County are now using five biological control insect species as part of an overall strategy to control and eradicate Dalmatian toadflax, diffuse knapweed, Canada thistle, and common mullen.
This past year alone, Foster Creek Conservation District and WSU Extension distributed 25,000 insects, working with over 100 landowners. They also collected GPS data on release sites and created maps that will aid in the research and evaluation of this alternative method of weed control.
Thanks to Susie Vanderberg of the Washington State Conservation Commission for this story.
WSU to Participate in Climate Change Solutions Teach-in
Focus the Nation is a national teach-in engaging millions of students and citizens with political leaders and decision makers about global warming solutions. Involving over a thousand colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools, faith groups, civic organizations and businesses, Focus the Nation hopes to be a catalyzing force helping shift the national conversation about global warming towards a determination to face this challenge. The national teach-in is being held January 31.
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, BioAg coordinator for WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, is organizing the university’s teach-in efforts. “There are quite a few people doing these things on their own, but it would hopefully be powerful to have people all thinking about it on the same day,” Carpenter-Boggs said.
So far, six natural resource scientists have committed to speaking, and two classes are interested in focusing on the topic for at least that day. Carpenter-Boggs said she’d like to see more students and faculty from business, the social sciences and the arts get involved. “Many of our natural resource scientists are researching solutions,” she said, “but the WSU community has a lot more to offer.”
“Focus the Nation is meant to be both educational and motivational. We’re making the sessions interactive, with discussions,” she said. “It’s not focused on the doom side of things, but on solutions.”
Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Ag
Here’s a quick update to a story we ran in the Nov. 28, 2007 issue of On Solid Ground about WSU’s new graduate certificate in organic agriculture. An informational Web page for the certificate has been published by the Center for Sustaining Agricultural and Natural Resources. The certificate program is also available to non-degree students. To learn more about how the certificate program might benefit you, please visit: http://csanr.wsu.edu/EducationOpps/gradcert.htm.
Mittelhammer Named IMPACT Interim Director
Ron Mittelhammer, Regents Professor and director of the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University, has been named interim director for the International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities & Trade (IMPACT) Center.
“The IMPACT Center is currently undergoing an assessment of its operations, strategic direction and resources to assure it will have the maximum future impact on the state’s food and agriculture industry,” said Mittelhammer. This assessment will include input from stakeholders across the industry.
“We are evaluating the current state of affairs, and then decisions will be made regarding the future focus of IMPACT research, outreach, and engagement,” said Mittelhammer. “Early in the new year we will complete an updated strategic plan for the center, and then pursue IMPACT operations with renewed vigor to address priority issues facing the agricultural sector and the Washington State economy.”
Former director, Thomas Wahl, has accepted a position as chair of the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.
The IMPACT Center was established in 1985 to address the issues important to the future of Washington state agriculture, food systems and the state economy.
For more information on the WSU IMPACT Center, please visit: http://impact.wsu.edu/.