Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, November 17, 2017, Page 12, Image 12

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November 17, 2017
‘We’re trying to do it without a government solution’
STUDY from Page 1
It’s likely the agency will assem-
ble an advisory committee that in-
cludes representatives of the canola
and specialty seed industries who
will try to hammer out an agreement,
said Kathy Hadley, a canola farmer
from Rickreall, Ore.
Hadley said she hopes canola can
be grown on at least 5,000 acres a
year, which would allow a local oil-
seed facility — Willamette Biomass
Processors — to invest in producing
food-grade vegetable oil.
“There’s certainly a demand for
that,” she said.
The specialty seed industry wants
to find a way to coexist with cano-
la producers without further inter-
vention from lawmakers, said Greg
Loberg, public relations chairman
for WVSSA.
“We’re trying to do it without a
government solution, but with a pri-
vate solution,” Loberg said.
The association is willing to in-
clude canola farmers as affiliate
members for a reduced fee, permit-
ting them to join in a map “pinning”
system designed to maintain isola-
tion distances and avoid cross-polli-
nation among species, he said.
Growers of turnip and radish seed
can already participate in the sys-
tem, but canola growers do not since
they’re currently regulated by ODA,
Loberg said.
While the pinning system can
preserve genetic purity, pest and dis-
ease problems would become worse
if the total Brassica acreage contin-
ues to grow, he said.
“We’re going to have to coexist
but there is going to have to be some
kind of limit,” Loberg said. “There
will be impacts if a practical limit is
It’s true that increased Brassi-
ca production could aggravate pest
and disease issues, but radish seed
is already widely grown in the Wil-
lamette Valley without any cap on
acreage, Hadley said.
“A Brassica is a Brassica. It’s
not necessarily right to talk limits
about one species and not other
ones,” she said. “I feel like things
need to be fair across the board for
Brassicas, not picking and choos-
ing one crop over another.”
Radish and turnip farmers can
voluntarily pin their fields on WVS-
SA’s map, but they’re not required to
participate, said Anna Scharf, whose
family farms near Perrydale, Ore.
The Willamette Valley Oilseed
Producers Association, which rep-
resents canola growers, plans to dis-
cuss the possibilities for coexistence
with its board and membership by
the end of the year, Scharf said.
“Until then, I’m very reluctant to
say we want X and we want Y,” she
No graduate program, but school doesn’t shy away from ag research
CLASS from Page 1
positions in the industry, and
his program aims to win over
new recruits early in their col-
lege careers.
“At our department, we
have one of the highest rates
of students who have a job
at graduation because the
demand is so high,” Hansen
said. “The problem is we
don’t attract enough students
into our program to meet de-
doesn’t have a graduate pro-
gram, the school doesn’t
shy away from agricultural
research. Hansen said most
clients who contract with the
RBDC — the Idaho Wheat
Commission, the Idaho Oil-
seeds Commission, J.R. Sim-
plot Co., Monsanto, Agrium,
Bayer Crop Sciences, BASF,
DuPont and Mosaic, to name
a few — also appreciate the
chance to help groom the next
generation of agricultural pro-
Chris Humphreys, an
agronomy and agricultur-
al technology professor, has
good luck recruiting mechan-
ical engineering students into
the agricultural program. He
said mechanical engineering
is a rigorous program with
high turnover, and “rather
than seeing them walk away,
we’re trying to find off-roads
for these students.”
Humphreys has also no-
ticed more agricultural stu-
dents with no farming or
ranching background are en-
rolling. According to USDA,
U.S. colleges produce 35,400
graduates per year to fill
roughly 58,000 annual job
openings requiring bachelor’s
or advanced degrees in food,
agriculture, renewable natural
resources and the environ-
Growth at RBDC
BYU-Idaho, owned and
operated by The Church of Je-
sus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
originated in 1888 as an el-
ementary school serving 59
students in a log cabin, called
Bannock Stake Academy. The
curriculum was expanded to
include high school courses
two years later, and the name
was changed to Rick’s Acade-
my in 1903.
College courses were add-
ed in 1915, and the institution
became Rick’s College in
1923, retaining only college
courses. In 2001, Rick’s Col-
lege became BYU-Idaho, and
now boasts an enrollment of
19,000, and is projected to
grow to 22,000 students with-
in the next few years, Hansen
Farm is self-sufficient, sup-
ported by the sales of com-
modities such as wheat, alfalfa
and potatoes.
“The primary goal of the
farm is to give students ap-
plied experience that prepares
them for the field of agricul-
ture,” Hansen said.
Farm revenue covers wag-
es for student workers — the
farm is available to about 100
students in the agronomy pro-
Courtesy of Nels Hansen
Brad Davis, left, presents during the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America undergraduate symposium at
the organizations’ annual convention this year in Tampa, Fla.
gram and 200 horticulture stu-
dents, who raise vegetables for
sale at area farmers’ markets.
The university also seeks
applicants each spring for
more intensive “mentored stu-
dent research.” The student
scientists are paid for the work
but receive no course credit.
RBDC handles the money and
works with clients, who typ-
ically approach it with their
research needs. Sometimes,
however, RBDC and its men-
tors pitch ideas to industry.
Much of the research is
conducted at Hillview Farm,
involving BYU-Idaho facul-
ty mentors. RBDC also has
its own outside staff of ex-
pert mentors that supervises
BYU-Idaho students’ off-cam-
pus research.
RBDC Director of Agri-
culture Kurt Harman said the
organization handles about
35 research projects per year,
covering food science, animal
science, plant science and ag-
ricultural business. Harman
said RBDC’s goal is to double
its student-led research within
the next 18 months, and to tri-
ple its program within three to
four years. He said RBDC will
soon make a push to hire ad-
ditional expert mentors, attract
volunteer mentors or reach
arrangements with clients
willing to supply new mentors
to aid in the program’s expan-
“We have the students. We
have the industry. We just need
to get organized,” Harman
The students
BYU-Idaho students are al-
ways among the top perform-
ers in an annual competition
ranking undergraduate re-
search projects, hosted during
the annual meeting of the
American Society of Agron-
omy, Crop Science Society of
America and the Soil Science
Society of America. Of the five
BYU-Idaho students who pre-
An applied plant science class at BYU-Idaho, where undergraduate
students participate in research projects for outside companies.
Courtesy of Colton Thurgood
During the phosphorus adsorption study, a photospectrometer is
used to determine the amount of phosphorus in solution.
sented their research posters at
the late-October conference in
Tampa, Fla., three placed in the
top three in their divisions.
Wilcox, who was raised on a
cattle ranch in Redmond, Ore.,
took second place in the agron-
omy division. As an under-
graduate studying agricultural
business, Wilcox is following
closely in the footsteps of his
grandfather, Dennis Wilson,
a former DuPont agronomist.
Wilcox has enjoyed collaborat-
ing through his research with
his grandfather’s former col-
leagues and competitors.
BYU-Idaho senior Brad Da-
vis, of Kingsport, Tenn., took
second place among 22 par-
ticipants in the competition’s
soil fertility and plant nutrition
category. His research involved
testing the effectiveness of hu-
mic acid-based products made
by his client, J.R. Simplot, to
prevent phosphorus from bind-
ing with calcium in soil. After
five months of testing soil re-
actions in a laboratory, Davis
concluded at least one of the
products would provide grow-
ers with a good return on their
While pursuing his bach-
elor’s degree, Davis said he’s
participated in about 10 agri-
cultural research projects, in-
cluding four that received fund-
ing from industry partners.
“Our program is probably
one of the most student-driven
programs in the country,” Davis
said. “I don’t know of any other
program that allows undergrad-
uate students to do the things
they’re doing at BYU-Idaho.”
The clients
BYU-Idaho faculty mem-
bers have a heavy course load
and seldom have time to get
the research they facilitate pub-
lished in scientific journals.
Nonetheless, research findings
are widely disseminated. Cli-
ents often publicize the data or
provide support for students to
present their findings at confer-
Most of the program’s
graduates become agronomists
or farm managers, and about
10 percent go on to graduate
school. Hansen, the department
chairman, believes the opportu-
nity BYU-Idaho students have
to learn in real-world circum-
stances enables them to “hit
the ground running, and it sets
them apart.”
“I have a degree in agrono-
my, and I think I was out in the
field two times the entire time
I went through that degree,”
Hansen said.
Humphreys typically asks
students he’s mentoring to help
teach classes, and recruit class-
mates to help with labor and
“There’s a certain aspect of
learning you have to do before
you teach,” Humphreys said.
The Idaho Oilseeds Com-
mission started contracting
with BYU-Idaho on mustard
research this season to provide
data in the region where most
of the crop’s production occurs.
“We can have field days and
have our growers come to those
field days and review the work
they’re doing,” said Bill Mead-
ows, owner of Mountain States
Oilseeds in American Falls.
University of Idaho Exten-
sion Cereals Pathologist Juliet
Marshall, who conducts UI’s
cereal variety trials, is work-
ing with Humphreys on winter
wheat variety trials BYU-Idaho
students planted this fall at Hill-
view Farm.
Cathy Wilson, the Idaho
Wheat Commission’s direc-
tor of research collaboration,
said her organization helped
the BYU-Idaho program buy
a combine last fall. The com-
mission is also supporting the
variety trials and has contribut-
ed toward a seeding-rate study
and trials on fungicide and her-
bicide application timing.
Wilson said applica-
tion-timing research “wasn’t
novel,” but the commission
supported it based on its stra-
tegic objective to “raise the
next generation of agricultur-
al professionals.”
Students who lead re-
search for the commission
must submit a report docu-
menting what they learned
and present their findings at a
national conference.
“A lot of people through-
out the industry are approach-
ing retirement, and we need
that next generation to fill
those positions,” Wilson said.
“We’re trying everything we
can to encourage students to
pursue agriculture.”
La Nina doesn’t always lead to cold and wet Northwest winters
REPORT from Page 1
La Nina tilts the odds in favor
of below-average temperatures
and above-median precipitation
across the northern tier of the U.S.
For the southern tier, the reverse is
La Nina doesn’t always lead to
cold and wet Northwest winters, but
does portend the greater accumu-
lation of snow to supply water for
summer irrigation.
“It certainly gives us the pos-
sibility of a wetter winter,” Idaho
State Climatologist Russell Qualls
Qualls said that snowfall was
heavy in recent years when ocean
temperatures were warm enough
to create strong La Nina condi-
tions. This La Nina is expected to
be weak, but snow totals have been
above average even in those years.
La Nina conditions are now
similar to one year ago, according
to NOAA, An ample snowpack last
winter got Washington irrigators
through a record-hot August.
drought in the winter of 2014-15
was during an El Nino, a warming
of ocean temperatures.
The Climate Prediction Cen-
ter planned to issue a new three-
month forecast Nov. 16. The Oc-
tober long-range forecast called
for precipitation and tempera-
tures to be average for most of
the Northwest through the end of
Northwest basins have an un-
usually large amount of snow for
this time of year, according to the
Natural Resources Conservation
Service. Snowpacks in many ba-
sins in Oregon, Idaho and Wash-
ington were double or triple of
normal for mid-November.
According to NOAA, a substan-
tial amount of cooler-than-aver-
age water below the surface of the
tropical Pacific could have an af-
fect for months, extending La Nina
into the spring.
Sea-surface temperatures stayed
cool in October, resisting atmo-
spheric forces that normally have
a warming effect, according to cli-