Catching Up with CALS — July 26, 2017
Dean's Message — Making Progress
We continue to make substantial progress in our plan to increase the profile of our outstanding agricultural teaching, research and outreach enterprise with the appointment of Jodi Johnson-Maynard and Edwin Lewis as department heads.
Johnson-Maynard will lead the Department of Soil and Water Sciences. A 17-year member of the faculty, she earned her master’s in soil science from CALS then her doctorate from the University of California Riverside. She served as soil division chair for three years for the Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences (PSES).
We announced last week that she will direct a $3.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture research project to help farmers adapt to future environment challenges including climate change. You can read more online.
Lewis will lead the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology. He is co-director of the Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem and joined the CALS faculty in May after relocating from UC Davis. At his former institution, Lewis was associate dean for agricultural programs. He is editor-in-chief for the international journal Biological Control and brings significant research and administrative cachet to his role as department head.
A national search for a scientist to lead the Department of Plant Science is moving along. Paul McDaniel, who led PSES, will serve as interim department head until the search concludes.
Our goal is to use the new departments to emphasize the outstanding quality of research and scientists who are now working on important agricultural and environmental issues. Both Johnson-Maynard and Lewis will have a portion of their appointment formally devoted to UI Extension. Thus the obligation to engage with stakeholders is an important part of their role moving forward.
This reorganization will help students by clearly focusing degree offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and it will help faculty better compete for research funding.
In recognition that summer is here, we will also celebrate the season Aug. 1-2 in Sandpoint with our first out-of-Moscow Summer of Science offering. You can find more about our effort at Sandpoint Pollinators in Peril event online at www.uidaho.edu/cals/news-and-events/sandpoint.
And finally, faculty, staff and friends who support CALS and helping young children sample the excitement of science are helping support the summer of science. Our online fundraising campaign at c-fund.us/b7g runs through Friday.
MICHAEL P. PARRELLA
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
20 supporters to the Summer of Science crowdfunding campaign had generated a total of $1,750 through early Wednesday afternoon. Additional matching funds from CALS faculty and staff members remain to boost new contributions made by Saturday morning to the university’s U&I=Give at c-fund.us/b7g.
Our Stories — UI-led Team Lands $3.4 Million USDA Grant
A team of researchers led by a University of Idaho soil scientist will continue working to help wheat farmers adapt to changing conditions by testing new strategies.
The project led by soil scientist Jodi Johnson-Maynard will explore the use of winter legumes and cover crops with cattle grazing at several locations in the Inland Northwest.
The new project focuses on wheat farming and the region’s changing landscapes. It is funded by a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and builds on research findings of a previous project known as Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH).
Expanding on existing research collaborations among UI, Washington State University, Oregon State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service is a key strength, Johnson-Maynard said.
The goal is to help farmers diversify their crops, boost profits and increase the adaptability of wheat-based farming to future environmental changes.
Johnson-Maynard was a member and team leader of the UI-led REACCH project, which ended this year. She joined the UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty in 2000 and will serve as head of the new Department of Soil and Water Systems.
“We’ve accumulated vast knowledge of crops and climates across the Inland Northwest so we’re not at the starting block. We have a strong foundation to build on,” she said.
The team includes agronomists, economists and insect, soil and water experts.
“By working together we have been able to garner significant support for research and extension on the resiliency of agriculture,” Johnson-Maynard said.
“Idaho agriculture is important to Idaho’s economy and essential for providing nutritious, safe and inexpensive food for consumers here and around the world,” said Janet Nelson, UI vice president for research and economic development. “University of Idaho scientists play critical roles in helping farmers and ranchers sustain their operations and protect the environment.”
The project will focus on three distinct climate zones based on precipitation and terrain. Researchers will test alternative farming strategies including adding winter peas and cover crops with livestock grazing into wheat-based crop rotations. Another goal in the driest areas of the wheat production region is increasing the diversity of crops farmed and reducing fallow.
Using cover crops to limit erosion and build soil fertility is receiving increasing interest. The project will explore the benefits of using cover crops with grazing as alternatives to spring-planted crops.
New fall-seeded pea varieties being tested will allow more flexibility in dealing with shifting environmental conditions. The project will also include the refinement of interactive computer-based models to help farmers make management decisions.
Other project leaders will include UI researchers Sanford Eigenbrode, Kurtis Schroeder and Erin Brooks; OSU researcher Clark Seavert; WSU researchers Shelley Pressley, Brian Lamb, Claudio Stockle and Ian Burke; and USDA-ARS researchers David Huggins and Rebecca McGee.
This project, Inland Pacific Northwest Wheat-based Systems: Landscapes in Transition, was funded under the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant No. 2017-68002-26819.
CALS Sponsors Sandpoint Pollinators in Peril Series Aug. 1-2
SANDPOINT — A noted bee expert will headline a Pollinators in Peril series of events in Sandpoint Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 1-2, focusing on the importance of pollinators and how to help them.
Events will include a community seminar, a Summer of Science booth at the Sandpoint Farmers Market for children, and a film showing with a panel discussion at the Panida Theater. All are free and open to the public and sponsored by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Sandpoint Orchard. More information is online.
Robbin Thorp, a retired University of California Davis bee expert and UI adjunct professor, will visit the Sandpoint Orchard at 10881 N Boyer Road near Sandpoint. Thorp will study the area’s bees at the invitation of CALS Dean Michael Parrella, the incoming president of the Entomological Society of America.
The community events are:
- 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, Little Panida Theater: Seminar will feature Thorp, Parrella and native bee expert Paul Rhoades. They will talk about the importance of pollinators, their recent population trends and bee management.
- 3-5:30 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 2, Sandpoint Farmers Market: The college will offer elementary-age children a free science kit as part of its Summer of Science program. Children will learn about insects and native bees.
- 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, Panida Theater: Two videos will focus on Thorp and an imperiled bumblebee. A panel discussion will follow. The video “The Old Man and the Bee” is a CNN report about Thorp’s search for the Franklin’s bumblebee. The other video, “A Ghost in the Making: Rusty-patched Bumble Bee,” is a documentary about the first bee in the continental U.S. added to the Endangered Species List.
The Sandpoint Orchard features 68 varieties of heirloom and modern apples. Operated by the nonprofit Center for Organic Studies, the orchard also grows pears, cherries, apricots and other fruits.
The center and university are working together to help people appreciate organic farming methods and the importance of local food systems.
The UI agricultural college launched its Summer of Science program in Moscow in June with the Moscow Farmers Market. More about the program is online.
The Moscow program runs through August and features weekly programs at the market focusing on topics ranging from native pollinators to dairy science, nutrition and plant science, among others.
Faces and Places
Animal and veterinary science graduate student Kim Davenport won an International Society for Animal Genetics poster award and a 200 euro prize during the group’s conference in Dublin, Ireland, in mid-July. Davenport was one of 13 poster award winners among the 300 posters judged. She and fellow AVS grad student Anna Rodriguez won two of nine travel bursaries awarded U.S. students to the conference through U.S. Department of Agriculture grant NIFA-AFRI (2017-67015-26298). Davenport’s poster was titled, “Investigating genetic associations with meiotic recombination in rams.” They attended the conference with their adviser AVS professor Brenda Murdoch. The research was funded by the University of Idaho Seed NIFA 2016-09952 “Meiotic recombination: crossing over into livestock species.”
School of Food Science professor Greg Möller was an invited speaker at the BIG Phosphorus Conference and Exhibition — Removal and Recovery in early July. The conference was held in Old Trafford, Manchester, England’s, soccer stadium. He spoke about the Everglades Foundation’s $10 million George Barley Clean Water Science Prize competition as one effort to stimulate interest in finding solutions to water pollution.
- Aug. 1 — Pollinators in Peril seminar featuring bee experts, Little Panida Theater, Sandpoint. 6:30 p.m.
- Aug. 2 — Pollinators in Peril — Summer of Science program with free science kits for elementary-age children, Sandpoint Farmers Market, 3-5:30 p.m. featuring bee experts, Little Panida Theater, Sandpoint. 6:30 p.m.
- Aug. 2 — Pollinators in Peril film screening, Panida Theater, 6-7 p.m.
- Sept. 6 — CALS Welcome Back Picnic, Parker Plant Science Farm, two miles east of Moscow on Idaho Highway 8, the Troy Highway, 4:30-7:30 p.m.