Catching Up with CALS Jan. 25, 2017
Dean's Message — Investing in Idaho
The college has enjoyed strong support from the Idaho Legislature in recent years. As a new dean with almost one year under my belt since I started here last Feb. 1, I have been thankful to benefit from that.
I’ve written about next year’s state-funded Agricultural Research and Extension Service budget already. We are requesting additional support to buy equipment, renovate labs and enhance graduate student housing at research and extension centers.
The budget is an investment in my view. There is broad recognition that research and extension are critical to the development of Idaho’s agriculture and a wide array of benefits to its people.
In CALS economists Ben Eborn and Garth Taylor’s annual presentation for the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee meeting earlier this month, one slide portrayed benefits to milk and potato production — and to consumers.
Their graph, shown at right, illustrates that the yield of milk per cow and yield per acre of potatoes have climbed as a result of management improvements based on research and extension. Consumers have benefited as the real price of milk dropped 59 percent between 1980 and 2016. Potato prices dropped 45 percent.
As I prepared for today’s presentation to JFAC, it struck me that we collectively need to do a better job of finding ways to show the return on the state’s investment.
It is a difficult challenge. How do you put dollars and cents on the value of the UI Extension 4-H Youth Development Program? We know 4-H members are less apt to engage in risky behaviors. They learn leadership and citizenship. These qualities benefit the young people throughout their lives, and they benefit the state.
When our researchers help wheat growers by developing and testing new varieties that resist pests or yield more high-quality grain, those are wins for growers’ bottom lines. When our nutrition programs help people lead healthier lives, reducing medical costs, those are huge victories.
When faculty and staff at the Parma Research and Extension Center conduct research that fosters the growth of the tree fruit industry, this is a big win for the immediate area and for the state as a whole.
In examples like these, it is easy to draw broad economic connections to what agricultural research and extension have contributed to the state. It is another matter to confidently assess a dollar value to these contributions.
Agricultural research and extension have contributed enormously to the success of agricultural production in the U.S. The land-grant university system, agricultural experiment stations, Extension and 4-H are the envy of many countries that are trying to duplicate our success.
We need to find better ways to help the public and elected officials understand our contributions going forward. I welcome your ideas. I hope to hear some the next time we have a chance to share a cup of coffee, cocoa or tea Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the Iddings Ag Sciences Building Room 62 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
MICHAEL P. PARRELLA
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
125 years is the milestone the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station will mark this year. The station began operation in the spring of 1892, months before the University of Idaho’s first classes met. The station now supports research, teaching and Extension activities on 4,122 acres, employs 225 full-time equivalent positions with research appointments, conducts $17 million in sponsored research annually at 9 research and extension centers statewide.
Our Stories — Extension Listening Sessions Top Expectations
Neither snow nor ice nor bitter cold could keep UI Extension stakeholders and faculty from listening sessions with Director Barbara Petty held across the state on six evenings earlier in January.
“I was really pleased with the turnout from the people in communities across Idaho who value what Extension does,” Petty said. "I was very happy to see that we had 100 percent turnout from county faculty and that many Extension specialists attended.”
For many stakeholders and county-based educators, the sessions meant drives of an hour or more through wintry conditions. One of the coldest was in Idaho Falls where frigid temperatures and wind combined. For some counties where reaching meetings would mean several hours’ travel, an online meeting was scheduled to accommodate them.
In all, more than 200 people attended the sessions, a turnout beyond her expectations.
The sessions gave Petty a chance to meet many stakeholders for the first time as director. She was selected for the post after a national search last year after serving as interim.
It was the first time in recent memory that a statewide series of listening sessions was organized to provide direct conversations with the public UI Extension serves.
The last major effort to gather perspectives across the state was a survey several years ago that helped provide useful insights.
The listening sessions were useful to stakeholders who attended, she said, because they heard people in other counties who were working with Extension in different ways to address common issues.
“I wanted to have the chance to hear from people directly and to have conversations with them as we make plans to move forward,” Petty said.
Although she plans to seek regular opportunities to meet with community members and Extension faculty across the state, it will probably be a few years before there will be another round of coordinated listening sessions planned across the state, particularly in winter, she said.
REACCH Prepares Farmers to Cope with Climate Change
Inland Northwest farmers will be better prepared to adapt to climate change as a result of a three-state, six-year, $20 million project led by the University of Idaho, the project’s director says.
The Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture drew together more than 200 researchers from the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
“Our goal is to help farmers to understand ways that climate change will affect them so they can better anticipate those changes and adopt new practices to meet future challenges,” said Sanford Eigenbrode, a UI entomologist and University Distinguished Professor.
His own research within the project included projecting effects of warming on cereal leaf beetles and their impacts on wheat. He also found a new aphid species that could pose problems ahead and launched studies of its biology. Entomology was a small but integral part of the overall effort, which addressed all the technical, economic and social aspects of wheat production in our region.
Genesee-area farmer Eric Odberg hosted a stop during a precision agriculture tour sponsored by REACCH in 2015. He has changed his methods to better apply and control the amounts of nitrogen fertilizer used on his fields, a climate-friendly move that also saved him money and improved yields.
“There’s only so much you can do to prepare for it. But just think about all of the farmers in the 30s in the dust bowl if they had had a project like this going on in the 20s, preparing them for what was going to happen,” Odberg said. “And now we just have so much more technology on our side to do that for us. I think that is what the greatest value of this whole grant has been.”
The $20 million project focused on wheat production but also examined implications for other crops, explored ways to limit farming’s impacts on climate change, developed new climate change education materials for K-12 students and analyzed likely pest and climatic condition changes.
Undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral researchers gained experience in disciplinary research and cross-disciplinary collaboration and outreach through the project.
Farmers gained insights into how they can improve current farming practices and prepare for future changes by employing precision agriculture technologies.
One such technology that is available to farmers now employs new equipment that strips wheat kernels from the heads without cutting the straw. That leaves more standing residue that can capture more wind-blown snow in the winter to build soil moisture, a critical change in the drier interior of the Columbia Basin.
To help farmers better see how changes could benefit their own operations, the project commissioned profile stories about how others have adopted new methods. Five profiles explore topics ranging from no-till farming methods to improve soil health, precision agriculture advances with the use of drones, adding marketing value through cooperative flour marketing by farmers who use direct seeding and precision agriculture strategies for those using conventional farming methods.
The profiles are posted online with many other project outputs at https://www.reacchpna.org/producer-profiles.
REACCH will wrap up its six-year run with a day-long conference in the Idaho Commons Feb. 9.
Jan. 31 IRIC Dedication Opens New Space for Collaboration
The Jan. 31 dedication of IRIC, the Integrated Research and Innovation Center, as University of Idaho’s newest laboratory building will mark the largest investment on campus in more than a decade.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the building’s foyer east of the Agricultural Sciences Building. More information about IRIC is available at www.uidaho.edu/research/entities/iric.
CALS researchers Louise-Marie Dandurand and Daolin Fu will be among the college’s first to occupy space in the new building. Additional researchers will move into the building in the months ahead.
Dandurand and Fu’s laboratory spaces are nearby each other. IRIC’s design allows researchers to share high-priced laboratory equipment to promote efficiency and collaboration.
Members of Dandurand’s research team working on the GLOBAL project, an international effort to find new ways to combat potato cyst nematodes, began moving in shortly after the building opened for occupancy early in January.
Fu will establish the Genomic Editing and Transformation Lab in IRIC to encourage broader collaboration among genetic researchers across campus, particular those who are plant-focused. He will continue to maintain his wheat-focused lab in the Agricultural Biotechnology Lab.
IRIC was developed to draw together groups working on major projects and to accommodate changing needs by providing flexible lab and office spaces.
Friday Moscow Food Summit Focuses on Local
The Palouse-Clearwater Food Coalition will sponsor the 2017 Food Summit, “The Value of Local Food: Community, Culture and Commerce,” on Friday, Jan. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Moscow’s 1912 Center Great Room.
The summit will highlight Moscow-area food businesses and local food options. Organizers also want to encourage dialogue about the gaps in our food systems and ways to increase local food access for under-served populations.
The keynote speaker of this event will be Steven VanAusdle, Walla Walla Community College president emeritus. VanAusdle’s accomplishments include the WSU Alumni Achievement Award and service as a White House Champion of Change. He will talk about “Creating a Culinary Culture: The Walla Walla Story.”
UI Extension Director Barbara Petty also will speak. UI economist Steve Peterson, assistant professor in the College of Business and Economics, will present his findings on the economic impact of the Moscow Farmers’ Market.
Also scheduled is a reading by Moscow Poet Laureate Tiffany Midge and a haiku reflection on the value of local food from Palouse Prairie Charter School’s seventh graders.
A documentary team from Food StoryCorps will gather audio recordings from participants about their connection with food for potential use on the coalition’s website.
The Palouse-Clearwater Food Coalition fosters communication and collaboration to strengthen the local food economy.
Lunch and networking opportunities will be provided. Tickets range from $15 to $25. Registration is at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-summit-2017-the-value-of-local-food-tickets-29590068692.
Faces and Places
Doug Gross ‘75 will receive the UI Alumni Association’s Silver and Gold Award Jan. 26 in Boise’s Crystal Ballroom, 802 W. Bannock St. No. 202, for his record of achievement and service in the agricultural industry. Gross is the CEO of Gross Farms Inc. and recognized in the industry as an exceptional potato grower who is humble in his activities and accomplishments. He has served on the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) in various roles and been commended for his concern about how IPC programs impact the Idaho potato industry rather than how they impact him individually. Gross has been an active spokesperson and advocate for Idaho potato issues at state and national levels, making a wide range of media appearances and lending testimony to the Idaho State Legislature. Gross has facilitated many opportunities and relationships between the university and students with the potato industry. Most recently he established an endowment for the potato program in UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The funds will be used for graduate students to tour the state visiting various aspects of the potato industry, from seed to sale.
- Jan. 26 — Ada County Silver and Gold Celebration, Crystal Ballroom, 802 W. Bannock St. #202, Boise. RSVP to adacountysilverandgold.eventbrite.com. Tickets are $25 before or $30 at the door. 6-8 p.m.
- Jan. 31 — Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) dedication, 10 a.m.
- Feb. 1-2 — Pesticide Stewardship Conference Managing Drift cosponsored by UI Extension and Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Riverside Hotel, Boise. Registration $200. Contact: email@example.com, 208-364-4581. Register online at https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1898325
- Jan. 27 — Palouse-Clearwater 2017 Food Summit Great Room in the 1912 Center, 412 East 3rd Street, Moscow, Idaho. Tickets are $15 to $25. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-summit-2017-the-value-of-local-food-tickets-29590068692. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Feb. 6 — Marketing Grain 2017. Red Lion Hotel, 621 21st St, Lewiston, Idaho. Registration $10. RSVP by Jan. 30 UI Extension Lewis County, 208-937-2311 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 7:30 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. breakfast.
- Feb. 10 —Visualizing Science opening reception. Prichard Gallery, 5 - 7 p.m.
- Feb. 15 — Five Common Mistakes in Grain Marketing conference featuring Ed Usset. Lindsay Creek Vineyards, 3107 Powers Ave, Lewiston. Registration fee of $10. RSVP by Jan. 30 UI Extension Lewis County office 208-937-2311 or email@example.com. 7:30 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. breakfast.
- Feb. 24 — CALS Awards nominations due. More information is at www.uidaho.edu/cals/news-and-events/awards/nomination-requirements. Deadline: 5 p.m.
- Feb. 20-21 — Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit, The Red Lion Downtowner, Boise. www.idahoagsummit.org
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