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Top Ranking, Asparagus, Forestry

Posted by | August 10, 2010

WSU Plant, Animal Scientists Ranked 13th Internationally

For more information about the world-class research going on at WSU and how it makes a difference in the lives of people in Washington and beyond, please visit http://bit.ly/9ceeK6.
For more information about the world-class research going on at WSU and how it makes a difference in the lives of people in Washington and beyond, please click the image or visit http://bit.ly/9ceeK6.

Plant and animal scientists at WSU are among the most productive and most impactful in the world, according to rankings recently released by Thomson Reuters.

In its July 2010 “Essential Science Indicators,” the business and professional information gathering company ranked WSU 13th in the world and sixth in the United States based on the number of journal articles produced by faculty scientists.

More important were the number of citations those articles generated. From January 1999 to June 2009, WSU researchers produced 2,473 scientific papers, which garnered 32,544 citations by other scientists.

“This ranking is by citations per paper among those institutions that have collected 25,000 or more citations in plant and animal sciences,” according to the company. “The ranking by citations per paper seeks to reveal heavy-hitters based on per paper influence, not mere output.”

That reflects the quality and scope of plant and animal science being conducted at WSU in the colleges of Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, said Howard Grimes, WSU vice president for research.

“The fact that the science we’re producing is foundational to other work being done around the globe is especially important,” he said. “This speaks volumes about the kind of inquiry we’re tackling.”

Essential Science Indicators issues bimonthly updates of institutions ranked in the top one percent for a field over a given period, based on total citations. For the current version, 887 institutions are listed in the field of plant and animal sciences. Of those, just 40 collected 25,000 or more citations.

Other institutions in the top 20 include the John Innes Centre (United Kingdom), Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN, Japan), Max Planck Society (Germany), University of California San Diego, University of Arizona, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, France), University of Washington, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia), and the University of British Columbia (Canada).

Learn more about WSU’s history of big ideas by visiting http://bit.ly/dyXCqj.

Undergrad Researcher Extends Asparagus Harvest at WSU Organic Farm

Undergraduate researcher Brian Koepke at the WSU Organic Farm field day
Undergraduate researcher Brian Koepke at the WSU Organic Farm field day.

Participants in the Washington State University Organic Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture project received fresh asparagus in their weekly box for the first time this summer, thanks to the work of WSU undergraduate Brian Koepke.

Under the direction of Vegetable Extension Specialist Carol Miles and Organic Farm Manager Brad Jaeckel, Koepke looked at cropping practices from soil amendments to cutting methods and regularity, and succeeded in extending what has been a 3-week harvest period to one that lasted nearly 10 weeks.

“Five-year-old crowns should have an eight-to-ten week harvest period,” said Koepke, an Organic Agricultural and Food Systems major who transferred to WSU from Hawaii.

Funded with a grant from the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences Academic Programs Department, Koepke’s project focused on the asparagus beds at the organic farm, where 150 Jersey Knight asparagus crowns were planted in 2005. Another 30 crowns were planted in 2006.

He worked in 18 separate 20-foot plots in three different asparagus beds. He started by looking at soil fertility in the beds, which to date had only been amended with compost. Soil samples showed the soil in all three beds was deficient in both nitrogen and sulfur. For comparison, he treated three replicated plots with only compost, three plots with a low rate of nitrogen, and three with a high rate of nitrogen.

He took a similar approach to harvesting methods — three plots were harvested by snapping off spears by hand, three were harvested using a sharp knife, and three were harvested with a custom-made two-pronged asparagus harvester that is narrower than a traditional factory-made asparagus harvester. In addition to comparing different methods, he also looked at the regularity of harvest. Koepke harvested every 24 hours, 7 days a week during the entire harvest period, except when spears did not grow to the desired length.

The results of Koepke’s project? He found that using the asparagus-harvesting tool allowed the spears to be cut at a longer length and with less damage to neighboring spears. He also found that harvesting every day during the peak of the season increased yields.

Overall, Koepke more than tripled the length of the harvest period as well as the yield, bringing in 72 pounds of asparagus to some very happy WSU Organic Farm CSA members.

Learn more about undergraduate education and research in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences by visiting http://bit.ly/cWYyab. Or hear what CAHNRS undergraduate researchers have to say for themselves by checking out these short videos: http://bit.ly/aE4uhU.

Learn more about the organic farm at WSU by visiting http://bit.ly/cIaHfP.

When it comes to agricultural science, WSU has a rich history of making critical contributions — including in organic ag. For more info, check out http://bit.ly/94gESg.

Helping Family Forest Owners Manage Their Stands

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert and County Executive Dow Constantine visited the field day.
King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert and County Executive Dow Constantine visited the field day.

It was a cloudy, misty Puget Sound kind of day as forest owners gathered for a Family Forest Owners Field Day recently in southeast King County. But many of the day’s workshops stressed proper forest management planning and techniques for eastern Washington stands.

“More than half of the forestland in eastern Washington is owned by people who don’t live there, and a large percentage of them are in the Puget Sound area,” says WSU Extension Forestry Educator Andy Perleberg. “These absentee owners are a major target for our Extension forestry program and field days.”

Nearly 200 families from throughout western Washington, plus a few from the east side, attended the daylong event on July 31. The workshops were tailored to private owners with anywhere from a few acres to a few hundred acres of forestland, and a variety of knowledge and skill levels.

Among the topics covered were sessions for new forestland owners, one specifically for east side forest owners, maintaining forest health, reducing wildfire risk, managing timber sales, forestry tax issues, and proper thinning.

Chainsaw safety is always a topic at Family Forest Field Days.
Chainsaw safety is always a topic at Family Forest Field Days.

“Thinning is the most important management practice for producing thriving understory vegetation,” says Perleberg, who claims he can help forest owners sell “anything that grows in their forest,” including non-wood products such as floral greenery and huckleberries.

“Proper thinning also is very important to forest health,” says Perleberg. “In a crowded stand, trees are competing for light, water, and nutrients. When stressed they are more susceptible to damaging insects, disease, and fire.”

He adds that thinning accelerates growth, provides more open ground for wildlife, improves access, and allows for increased diversity of tree age and species.

“Forest owners love their land and appreciate information that helps them be good forest stewards,” Perleberg says. “That’s what we provide.”

Another Family Forest Owners Field Day is set for Saturday, Aug. 28, in the southwest Washington community of Ridgefield. This one is co-sponsored by WSU Extension and the Oregon State University Extension Service, and is intended for forest owners from both states. For more information and registration visit http://ext.wsu.edu/forestry/ and click on “Oregon-Washington Forest Owners Field Day.