Catching Up with CALS — Feb. 7, 2018
Dean's Message — The Future
The CALS crew had a fun field trip to Moses Lake on Friday with visits to Midway and Lakeview Terrace elementary schools there. That followed a visit the week before to Glanbia Foods headquarters in Twin Falls and a lunch with U of I alumni employed there.
It is always a fun opportunity to watch young children learn about the world through science. CALS ambassadors connected with FFA members from Moses Lake High School to offer lessons about our sense of taste and the importance of soil and water.
My privilege on Friday was introducing the students at Midway Elementary to the fascinating world of entomology through the William F. Barr Entomology Museum’s collection of walking sticks and cockroaches.
Associate Dean Matt Doumit and animal scientist Stacy Doumit helped explain how milk becomes the safe, healthy drink that every American child knows.
The Jan. 26 visit to Glanbia’s headquarters in Twin Falls drew about 30 alums and was organized by the U of I Office of Alumni Relations and Kathy Barnard, assistant vice president, communications and alumni relations.
Our goal included honoring Barney Krueger, the company’s senior vice president of technical services. The CALS Alumni Association selected Barney as its Distinguished Associate Award recipient but he was unable to attend Celebrating Idaho Ag festivities to receive his award.
In my mind, there is an obvious connection between the two events at Moses Lake and Twin Falls.
We must show young students that science is fun and interesting to help them find their ways to challenging and rewarding jobs at companies like Glanbia.
It is likely that one of the young students who looked into the rumen on display at Midway Elementary or learned about the importance of soil may someday develop that interest into a career.
We hope they find their way to CALS to follow that career path. But in the bigger picture, to provide Glanbia and the rest of agriculture with those future workers, we hope that interest leads them to education beyond high school and to helping the world’s most essential industry continue to thrive.
MICHAEL P. PARRELLA
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
700 elementary students from Midway and Lakeview Terrace Elementary Schools in Moses Lake, Washington, learned about soil and water, taste perception, dairy science and insects Feb. 2 during a visit by CALS faculty and students. 3 CALS Ambassadors, Kayla Yearout, Dain Johnson and Kirsten Forster, coordinated activities with 6 Moses Lake High FFA students during assemblies at the 2 schools.
Our Stories — Study Probes Why Experiments Hard to Reproduce
A University of Idaho professor joined colleagues worldwide in addressing one of science’s toughest questions: How well can scientists reproduce an experiment?
The team of researchers used the same methods to grow the same mixes of grass and clover in many locations across Europe using controlled environments. The test whether a grass and clover mix was more productive — yielded mixed results. More importantly, the test explored how hard it is to get the same results, and why.
The research team included scientists who work on three continents. Their study, “Genotypic Variability Enhances the Reproducibility of an Ecological Study,” was published recently in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
“This hadn’t been done for agricultural and ecological science, so ours was really the first one to do that,” said research team member Zachary Kayler, a U of I assistant professor of watershed and nutrient management. Kayler joined the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty in 2017.
The research was conducted by more than a dozen labs across England, France and Germany. Kayler said the problem is similar to finding out why a recipe in your kitchen didn’t work as well as expected. Was the oven too hot? Was the yeast fresh? The answer affects the confidence cooks have in the recipe and the results. In science, the answer affects scientists’ confidence in the results and public confidence in research.
To explore variables such as genetics, the team used different genotypes of the same grass and clover. Similarly, a bread recipe might use two types of yeast.
Conventional wisdom says a grass-clover mix produces more plant matter because the clover, a legume, adds nitrogen to the soil that fertilizes the grass. Reproducing past test results can prove difficult because growing conditions like temperature, moisture and light, among others, can vary widely.
So scientists simplify things. The same species of grass and clover might be grown in a greenhouse or growth chamber at the same temperature, moisture and light levels.
Even so, the test results vary. Many scientific disciplines have a reproducibility crisis because findings cannot be repeated consistently.
“We go out into the field, and we look for, discover and observe interesting patterns. We want to know the mechanisms behind the patterns that we see,” Kayler said.
Researchers’ difficulty in reproducing results suggests the causes of those patterns remain at least somewhat unclear.
The researchers did learn that a bigger mix of plant genotypes — same plant, different genes — produced more reliable and reproducible results.
Kayler earned his doctorate in forest science from Oregon State University in 2009, then worked in Germany for six years at the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) outside of Berlin. He returned to the U.S. and worked for the U.S. Forest Service and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining U of I.
Workshops Saturday in Three Towns Focus on Small Farms
University of Idaho Extension is hosting three workshops for small farms and ranches in Latah, Boundary and Teton counties Friday, Feb. 9. The workshop focuses on navigating liability insurance and advanced sustainable farm law.
The workshop will explore the risks that often materialize on farms — from crop and livestock losses to customer and employee injuries — and will review the insurance options available to protect farm and ranch businesses. The workshop also covers choosing the right business entity for your farm, including discussions on sole proprietorship, forming an LLC, cooperating with other farmers, passing your business on to your children, and finding a taxation structure that’s right for you.
Presenters include Matt Stannard, director of Farm Commons’ Legal Education; Diane Green from Greentree Natural in Sandpoint; and Chris Drummond from Muddy Springs Farm in Viola, who will share their personal experiences, lessons and perspectives on business formation and maintenance, as well as their liability insurance needs and solutions.
The workshop will be broadcast live from Moscow and will be connected via webinar with local facilitators in Bonners Ferry and Driggs. The program is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time.
Cost for the workshop is $25 per person and includes lunch. Rural Roots members will receive a 20 percent discount.
Faces and Places
Dairy scientist Amin Ahmadzadeh, who joined the CALS faculty in 2000, has accepted the position as Term Department Head of Animal and Veterinary Science in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. His appointment began Jan. 1, and he will serve in that role until Dec. 31, 2019. A professor of dairy science, he has served as co-interim department head for 13 months.
University of Idaho Extension livestock educator Sarah Baker of UI Extension, Custer County will lead a free Alaska meat quality assurance training Friday and Saturday in Fairbanks, Alaska. The training is sponsored by the Tanana District 4‑H and Future Farmers of America Livestock Committee and the Alaska Farm Bureau. It was coordinated by a 4‑H leader who raises beef cows.
Barney Krueger, senior vice president of technical services at Glanbia, received a Distinguished Associate Award from the CALS Alumni Association in the fall of 2016. Barney was unable to attend the Celebrating Idaho Ag festivities to receive his award. The U of I Office of Alumni Relations organized a lunch at Glanbia’s Twin Falls headquarters Jan. 26 to deliver the honor.
- Feb. 6-8 — Spokane Ag Expo, Spokane Convention Center, Spokane
- Feb. 16 — UI Extension 4-H Know Your Government 30th Anniversary Reunion, Red Lion Downtowner, Boise
- Feb. 17-19 — UI Extension 4-H Know Your Government, Boise
- Feb. 19 — CALS Advisory Board, Red Lion Downtowner, Boise
- Feb. 19-20 — Larry Branen Ag Summit, Red Lion Downtowner, Boise
- March 8 — Visioning for the Future: Parma Research and Extension Center, Parma Ridge Winery, 24509 Rudd Rd, Parma, contact: Carly Schoepflin, email@example.com, 208-885-4037
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