Discovering Future Ag Products with Rosana Serikawa

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Show Notes & Resources Mentioned:

Contact Information:

Contact Rosana via email at rosana.serikawa@corteva.com.


What is a podcast?

For those of you who are newer to the medium, a podcast is like a pre-recorded radio show. In the same way that you turn on a talk radio show, you have to turn on a podcast. The major difference is that while our cars are equipped to find radio frequencies, they are not built to accommodate direct access to podcasts. On your smartphone or computer with internet access (since the files tend to be on the larger side), you can discover podcast shows of any kind, in any field, on any topic.

Listed above are some of the most used podcast hosts. iTunes and the iTunes Podcast app are preinstalled on your iPhone and are the simplest tools to use. You simply search for “WSU Wheat Beat Podcast” in the search bar, hit “subscribe” and the download arrow, and listen whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you use an Android or use another type of smartphone, you will need to find a different podcasting app because those devices don’t come with a preinstalled app like Apple. If you don’t know which podcast app you’d like, simply hit the “Android” link above and it will show you to several Android podcast apps for you to choose from.

After you download an episode, you can listen without using data any time of day. Our goal is to post a new podcast every other Monday. Your podcast app should automatically load our new episodes and download them for you (on WiFi), hands-free if you choose that in the app settings.

If you have further questions about what a podcast is, which app is best for you or need more assistance with getting started with podcasts, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: This episode of the WSU Wheat Beat podcast was recorded on March 22, 2019, during the WSU Plant Science Symposium. The theme of the symposium was foundations for the future, embracing new agricultural technologies. As part of the program, five innovative researchers from across the U.S. and the world agreed to speak about their research. All five researchers also agreed to sit down with me for a few minutes to explain their work, and how it may relate to wheat growers in Eastern Washington.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Welcome back to our special series from the 2019 WSU Plant Science Symposium. My guest today is Rosana Serikawa. Rosana is originally from Brazil. She earned her B.S. degree in agronomic engineering in Brazil. Her M.S. degree in entomology is from the University of Nebraska. And she finished her Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Florida. She started at DuPont Brazil, now Corteva Agriscience, as a research scientist in 2011, where she was responsible for challenging insecticide and nematicides products in development by trying to figure out their flaws and strengths before sending the products out to the field scientists throughout Latin America. She currently leads the field scientists in the US, North and West, and acts as the interface between what is going on in the field and what is being developed. Hello, Rosana.

Rosana Serikawa: Hello, Drew.

Drew Lyon: So tell us, who is Corteva, this new company that’s on the horizon, or actually not on the horizon, it’s here, isn’t it?

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So Corteva’s actually the merge of pretty much three companies. That is the Dupont Crop Protection, Dupont Pioneer, and Dow AgroSciences.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So Dow AgroSciences will be spinning off into Corteva in April 1st. And June 1st, that’s when we’re going to be spinning out into our own company.

Drew Lyon: Okay. And so, merging products from different companies and getting a whole new portfolio, things that you offer.

Rosana Serikawa:  Yeah.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: Yes. We’re getting a very good portfolio. And we’re going to be able to now integrate the seeds to seed treatment and the crop protection.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So that must be an exciting time to be involved in a company like that.

Rosana Serikawa: It is. It’s very challenging but, at the same time, very exciting.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So I think one of the reasons these companies are merging is because new products are becoming more difficult to bring to the marketplace. So we found all the easy stuff. The new stuff’s getting a little more expensive. So just what is the cost of developing a new pesticide?

Rosana Serikawa: So according to crop life, in 2014, the cost of bringing a product into the market was around $298 million.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: But internal estimates, with the type of regulations that are required right now, we believe that is around $348 million for 2019.

Drew Lyon: So that might explain why it’s really difficult for smaller companies to get into this field because it just costs so much.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So a lot of companies, as you can see in the news, they are merging together or they are buying smaller companies to get more power on the development of new products.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So as I listened to your talk today, you talked about, what, something like 3,500 products get narrowed down to one that takes 7 to 12 years to do that. How does a company prioritize which products they bring to market? So as you’re winnowing that 3,500 down to one, what are you looking for in that new product to decide that you want to keep moving forward with it?

Rosana Serikawa: So a lot of things are taken to considerations. We try to look forward in 10 years. So what is going to happen in 10 years? So we try to predict everything that is out there. So right now, we have a lot of products for caterpillars, so as BT. So we know that we have a lot of products for caterpillars. Well, you know, if it’s a remote infection. But so what’s the next? So we think what could be happening in 10 years. So right now, probably we’re starting to develop products for, you know, stink bugs and soybeans because with the BT, we’re covered. But what is not covered in there?

Drew Lyon: Okay. So you really have to have a bit of a crystal ball trying to figure out that far out what the best problems might be, be the insects, disease, or weeds.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. We do a lot of marketing assessments. We talk with a lot of specialties. We do models to try to find out, even like resistance. So how long it would take to get resistance, five, 10 years. So we get data and we develop models to try to understand what will happen in 10 years. So that’s how we prioritize our products. And, you know, we know that future, probably the quantity of water will be limited. So we’re also thinking developing products that are, you know, water stress resistance.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So here in Eastern Washington, wheat is kind of king. If you look across the country, it’s corn and soybeans that are king. So as a company, you have to look at those different markets. But what do you understand the needs or how does Corteva go about trying to understand the needs of the wheat market say in comparison to the corn and soybean market?

Rosana Serikawa: So that’s a lot of things. We do market assessments. We talk with growers. You know, we have the field scientists, including one of my field scientists. He was ex-faculty from here, Joe Yenish.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So he talks a lot of the growers and consumers and see what their needs are. And looking to the needs, they also see, okay, so we need to develop product for this or if they have some issues. Oh, we have a product that could control these type of issues. And so, we try to address that into our research and to get products developed to that specific issue.

Drew Lyon: Do you try to develop products specifically for wheat or is it you’re looking for it in corn and soybeans and then you happen to notice that it works in wheat, or how is wheat, I guess, prioritized among the major crops in the US?

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. The major research was on soybean and corn. But wheat is becoming very big into our company as well, even especially of our merge.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Rosana Serikawa: So we have several products that are specifically developed for the wheat.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Joe Yenish, by the way, was in my position before I came here. So you got a good hire there.

Rosana Serikawa: That’s great.

Drew Lyon: So what are some of the implications of your work you think for wheat growers here in Eastern Washington? What might they be seeing coming along down the line or how what you do affects what they do?

Rosana Serikawa: So we’re looking a lot on weeds right now. So weeds for the wheat. So that’s one our focus. But we do have some seed-applied technology coming for wireworms.

Drew Lyon: Okay. That’s a big issue.

Rosana Serikawa: Yeah. So we’re developing new tools to address some of the issues that are coming up.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Very good. Well, thank you very much for taking some time while coming here to speak at the WSU Plant Science Symposium to also come here and talk to me on the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. Thank you very much.

Rosana Serikawa: Thank you so much. It was my pleasure.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon That’s lyon@wsu.edu (drew.lyon@wsu.edu). You can find us online at smallgrains.wsu.edu and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

The Problem Underground

You may not be able to see them with the naked eye, but if you were to pick up a handful of soil, it would probably contain 100 or more very small roundworms called nematodes.  Most soil nematodes are not harmful to plants, as they feed off bacteria, fungi, and other nematodes. However, there is a small percentage of nematodes that are plant pathogens. They attack and feed on plant tissues, typically roots. In general, plant parasitic nematodes reduce water and nutrient uptake, which subsequently affects plant yield. They can also cause physical/mechanical damage to the host that can serve as entry points for other pathogens. In the case of small grains in the Pacific Northwest, the major plant-parasitic nematodes capable of causing economic damage are root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus), cereal cyst nematodes (Heterodera), and root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne).

Root lesion nematodes are commonly detected in small grain fields. These nematodes can feed on the outside of plant roots on the root hairs, but they can also completely enter plant roots. Root-lesion nematodes cause a lot of damage as they migrate and feed on plants. In some plants, the nematode infections will lead to obvious necrosis (dark, dead patches) on the roots. They can also cause retard root growth. It may be difficult to see the belowground symptoms, but looking above ground, the symptoms will be patches of unthrifty and/ or yellowed plants, similar in appearance to other root rot pathogens like Rhizoctonia. In the PNW, the two most common species of root lesion nematodes are Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus. These species have broad host ranges, infecting cereals and many rotation crops, such as pulses, as well as common weeds. Management of root-lesion nematodes includes crop rotation with non-hosts, using varieties with genetic resistance, and using good sanitation practices on farm equipment to help prevent the further spread of this nematode.

Cereal cyst nematodes, like root lesion nematodes, are root-infecting nematodes. There are two species of cereal cyst nematodes of concern in the PWN, H. avenae and H. filipjevi. They have a slightly different lifestyle compared to root lesion nematodes in that once they are completely inside the roots, they establish permanent feeding sites and will not move again; they simply sit still and feed. As with root lesion nematode infections, it may be difficult to know if you have a cyst nematode infection because finding tiny cysts in the soil or on the roots may be difficult if you are not carefully looking. Above ground, symptoms are non-specific. You may see patches of yellowed and stunted plants in the fields. Unlike root-lesion nematodes, cyst nematodes found in small grain fields have a much narrower host range, infecting only grasses. The narrow host range of these nematodes can be exploited for their control; crop rotation with non-hosts is a possible control strategy.

Root-knot nematodes are another group of nematodes that may cause problems in small grain fields. Root-knot nematodes get their name because infections cause the formation of root knots or galls on the root systems.  Like cyst nematodes, they completely enter the plant roots and turn surrounding plant cells into feeding sites. Once they start feeding, the nematode stops moving and just sits still to feed. The cereal root-knot nematode Meloidogyne naasi can infect barley, wheat, sorghum, and some grasses. M. chitwoodi is a root-knot nematode endemic to the region and it has also been shown to infect small grains and cause small galls on the roots. In general, root-knot nematodes are more common in irrigated soils.

There are general management strategies for all three nematodes. Avoid the movement of soil from infested fields to un-infested fields as nematodes move easily in the soil left on equipment, tools, and even boots. Identification of the nematode to species, such as which species of cereal cyst nematode is present (H. avenae or H. filipjevi), can help inform decisions regarding which variety should be planted. Winter varieties tolerate damage from root-knot and cereal cyst better than spring varieties as the winter varieties have a larger root system when these nematodes become active in the spring. Reduction of plant stressors, including soil compaction, pH, and nutrient deficiency encourages plant growth, therefore, tolerance to nematode infection. No chemical fumigants are currently registered for use in small grains; fumigants are also unlikely to be economical unless there is a high-value crop in rotation.

Further Reading:

References:

Nyczepir AP, O’Bannon JH, Santo GS, Finley AM (1982) Incidence and distinguishing characteristics of Meloidogyne chitwoodi and M. hapla in potato from the northwestern United States. J Nematol 14 (3):347-353

Smiley RW (2015) Plant-parasitic nematodes affecting small grain cereals in the Pacific Northwest. A Pacific Northwest Extension Publication. Oregon State University,

Smiley RW, Merrifield K, Patterson L-M, Whittaker RG, Gourlie JA, Easley SA (2004) Nematodes in dryland field crops in the semiarid pacific northwest United States. J Nematol 36 (1):54-68

Cereal Cyst


Mary Burrows, Montana State University, Bugwood.org
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Root-Knot


Jason Brock, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Root-Lesion

Lesion Nematode.
Jonathan D. Eisenback, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.


Canola and Italian Ryegrass Control

I have seen more canola growing around Pullman this year than I recall seeing before. There are probably a couple of things driving this increase. One is the sharp drop in chickpea and lentil prices and the other is Italian ryegrass control.

Italian ryegrass is the poster child for herbicide resistance in Eastern Washington. Frequent use of ACCase (Group 1) and ALS (Group 2) herbicides in our wheat-centric cropping systems has selected for biotypes that are resistant to most herbicides in these two groups. Growers in the high rainfall region, where Italian ryegrass is most problematic, are quickly running out of herbicide options to control Italian ryegrass and it is rapidly spreading throughout the region.

Roundup Ready canola provides growers with an opportunity to use glyphosate (Group 9) in the crop to assist in the control of Italian ryegrass. I am a big fan of crop rotation for the management of weeds; however, I wonder how many growers are using glyphosate as the only herbicide for Italian ryegrass control in their Roundup Ready canola?

I can think of no better way to quickly select for Italian ryegrass biotypes resistant to glyphosate than to rely solely on glyphosate for the control of Italian ryegrass. When growing Roundup Ready canola, glyphosate should be used in tandem with a Group 3 preemergence herbicide such as ethalfluralin (Sonalan) or trifluralin (Treflan). Alternatively, glyphosate could be applied with an ACCase herbicide such as clethodim (Select), quizalofop P-ethyl (Assure II), or sethoxydim (Poast), but only if the particular ACCase herbicide is still effective on the Italian ryegrass biotype that is being treated.

Glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass is present in orchards in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t want to select for it in our wheat production systems.


For questions or comments, contact Drew Lyon by phone 509-335-2961 or via email drew.lyon@wsu.edu.

Farm Bill Information Update Washington Factsheet

The new Farm Bill was signed into law in December 2018.  However, it cannot be fully implemented until USDA establishes rules and policies for implementation.  The final rules are expected to be made public about August 1.  The current Timely Topic outlines some of the changes in the new Farm bill, and issues facing farmers as they approach the September 1 sign-up date.

Timeline

  • The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 passed Congress and became law in December 2018
  • Its passage was followed by the longest government shutdown in history delaying the rule making process
  • August 1, 2019 is the estimated date for final rules and regulations publication in the Federal Register
  • The announced sign-up opening date for commodity programs is September 1, 2019
  • No ending date for sign-up has been announced

Projected Outlays, FY2019-2028

Pie chart with nutrition at 77%, crop insurance at 9%, commodities at 7%, Conservation at 7%, other programs at 0.49%.
Click photo to enlarge.

2014 Base Acres and Commodity Programs

  • By far wheat has the most base acres in Washington within 2.95 million acres
  • 90% of wheat base is in ARC CO, 6% in PLC and 4% in ARC IC
  • ARC CO payments were large in 2014-2015. PLC Largest in 2016
  • Each county is unique. For Whitman ARC CO paid more. In Columbia PLC paid more
  • 2018 Farm Bill reduces selection risk
  • Initial sign-up for 2019 and 2020, and then annually for 2021 to 2023

Wheat at 2.95 million acres, barley at 0.22 million acres, corn at 0.11 million acres in Washington state.

Whitman county ARC CO bs PLC 2014-2018 combined.
Columbia county ARC CO vs PLC 2014-2018 combined.
Payment formula for PLC and ARC-CO.
  • PLC and ARC CO payment formulas remain the same from 2014 Farm Bill
  • But, yield data used in ARC CO changes from using NASS data to RMA yield data
  • A map study shows most of Washington RMA wheat yields to be slightly less than NASS yields
  • National Farm Bill decision aids will be updated and use RMA yields for sign-up analysis
  • 2018 Farm Bill introduced a reference price escalator for PLC
  • Preliminary estimates indicate that large chickpeas, rapeseed, lentils, and small chickpeas will have higher reference prices due to the escalator in 2019

Declining Trend in ARC CO Revenue

5 year wheat price average on a decline from $6.50 to just above $5.50.
  • 5 year Olympic average prices have a declining trend
  • Declining prices reduce ARC CO county benchmark revenue
  • ARC CO formula further reduces revenue guarantee 14%
  • Analyst predict that more producers will sign-up for PLC
  • PLC uses FSA farm yield
  • Farms use FSA yields > county average yield benefit with PLC
  • Yield update is available with 2019 sign-up
  • Farms need to use the national Farm Bill Decision aids when available to evaluate their farm’s unique attributes for yield update and program choice at sign-up

Microbes, Siderophores, and Iron Deficiency with Dr. Tarah Sullivan

Relevant Citations:

Lewis, R., Islam, A., Dilla-Ermita, J.C., Hulbert, S.H., and T. S. Sullivan*, 2019. High-throughput siderophore screening from environmental samples: plant tissues, bulk soils, and rhizosphere soils. Journal of Visualized Experiments Issue 144 (DOI: 10.3791/59137, https://www.jove.com/video/59137/high-throughput-siderophore-screening-from-environmental-samples)

Lewis, R., Opdahl, L., Islam, A., Davenport, J., and T. S. Sullivan*, 2019. Comparative genomics, siderophore production, and iron scavenging potential of root zone soil bacteria isolated from ‘Concord’ grape vineyards. Microbial Ecology (DOI: 10.1007/s00248-019-01324-8).

Sullivan, T.S.*, and G.M. Gadd, 2019.  Metal bioavailability and the soil microbiome. Advances in Agronomy, Volume 155 (https://www.elsevier.com/books/advances-in-agronomy/sparks/978-0-12-817408-1).

“How soil microbiology might help your PB&J” May 15, 2019, WSU Insider   (https://news.wsu.edu/2019/05/15/soil-microbiology-might-help-pbj/)

“Digging into soil bacteria and chlorosis,” February 14, 2019, Good Fruit Grower (https://www.goodfruit.com/digging-into-soil-bacteria-and-chlorosis/).


What is a podcast?

For those of you who are newer to the medium, a podcast is like a pre-recorded radio show. In the same way that you turn on a talk radio show, you have to turn on a podcast. The major difference is that while our cars are equipped to find radio frequencies, they are not built to accommodate direct access to podcasts. On your smartphone or computer with internet access (since the files tend to be on the larger side), you can discover podcast shows of any kind, in any field, on any topic.

Listed above are some of the most used podcast hosts. iTunes and the iTunes Podcast app are preinstalled on your iPhone and are the simplest tools to use. You simply search for “WSU Wheat Beat Podcast” in the search bar, hit “subscribe” and the download arrow, and listen whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you use an Android or use another type of smartphone, you will need to find a different podcasting app because those devices don’t come with a preinstalled app like Apple. If you don’t know which podcast app you’d like, simply hit the “Android” link above and it will show you to several Android podcast apps for you to choose from.

After you download an episode, you can listen without using data any time of day. Our goal is to post a new podcast every other Monday. Your podcast app should automatically load our new episodes and download them for you (on WiFi), hands-free if you choose that in the app settings.

If you have further questions about what a podcast is, which app is best for you or need more assistance with getting started with podcasts, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Hello. Welcome to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. I’m your host, Drew Lyon, and I want to thank you for joining me as we explore the world of small grains production and research at Washington State University. In each episode, I speak with researchers WSU and the USDA-ARS to provide you with insights into the latest research on wheat and barley production. If you enjoy the WSU Wheat Beat podcast do us a favor and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review while you’re there so others can find the show too.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: My guest today is Dr. Tarah Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan is a soil microbiologist from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Washington State University. She originally trained as a soil scientist at Colorado State University, and then Cornell. Her current research at WSU addresses different aspects of how soil microbial communities assist in nutrient cycling and availability to plants. She runs an active research lab, teaches both undergraduates and graduate courses and engages in outreach locally to increase understanding of these highly complex systems that she studies. Hello, Tarah.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Hi, Drew.

Drew Lyon: So, the last time you were on my podcast, we spoke about the wide array of projects you’re working on. Most of these projects focused on microbial soil health and agricultural sustainability. But today, we’re going to focus in a little bit on your work on iron deficiency. Can you tell us why you’re interested in studying iron deficiency?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Well, Drew, when you think about something like soil health, and agricultural sustainability, those as I study them through the lens of soil microbiology, are key functions in services and processes that the microbial community actually provides to the system. And, nutrient availability is a really key process involved in soil health and agricultural sustainability. And when you think about iron, we realize that iron is all around us; in soils all over the place for the most part. The problem is that iron is not readily bioavailable. Which means plants and microbes can’t actually use it in their cellular metabolism in the form that it’s found in soils and in the environment. And so, iron is a very important element and nutrient that has to be changed biochemically in order to be used by plants and microbes. And so, this is a key function that my lab has really targeted to look at. In microbial communities, we not only look at the entire community, who’s there, basically the taxa, the genus and species of all the community, but we’re really interested in those functions that contribute to soil health and sustainability. So, iron deficiency, in any type of plant, allows us to really examine the microbial contribution to the bioavailability of that particular metal.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So, because it’s deficient, then you can see what impact the microbes have. If it’s not deficient, you can’t really get at that? Is what you’re telling me?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: It doesn’t have to be deficient, but it’s provided us with an opportunity, in collaboration with Joan Davenport’s lab, we’ve been able to identify some vineyards, down in the Yakima Valley where the grapevines are displaying, primarily juice grapes, are displaying what they call “iron chlorosis”. So this is an iron deficiency and it’s classically treated with foliar applications of iron chelates. The interesting thing about it is that we’ve identified whole vineyards where there are huge areas of very, very healthy vines, interspersed with a few very chlorotic or iron deficient vines. And yet, the soils are all the same; the climate is the same; the management is the same. So this allows us to look very specifically at the iron deficiency and see what’s different in the microbial community of those plants that are iron deficient versus those plants that healthy.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So, how do you do that? Do you have a certain methodology you use to figure out what’s going on in there?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Yes. We’ve actually been pretty excited in my lab. Just in the last few months, we were able to publish a paper; I’m not going to give you the full, long title, but we’re studying specifically siderophore production. And what siderophores are is actually these small molecules that allow microbes to chelate iron, in the environment. So, like I said, it’s all around us, but it’s not bioavailable. Siderophores are molecules that certain types of plants can secrete, but also microbes can secrete it into the soil, and it actually chelates onto the iron and reduces it into a bioavailable form that plants and microbes can then use in their cellular metabolism. And so, the method that we actually have been working on, and we’re really excited to get out in the Journal of Visualized Experiments just recently, is a method that allows us to test a high number of either soil samples or plant tissue samples because we also know that microbes live inside plants and help them with nutrient absorption as well; but the method allows us to screen many, many samples simultaneously for this siderophore production. And it’s based on an older method, using a dye called Chrome Azurol S; I know that sounds complicated, we usually just call it CAS, so that’s C-A-S. And the key here is that the dye is a lot like a chelating molecule. And when it’s bound up with the iron, it shows as a bright blue. And we can actually find this on a spectrometer or look for the 420-nanometer wavelength, which is the bright blue. And so, we know that as that dye starts to give up the iron to another molecule, such as a siderophore, that dye changes color. And the dye will change color according to what type of siderophore is being produced. So, we’ve based this, you know, utilized this existing technology, but set it up in a way that we can do many, many samples all at once. So, we could take a whole vineyard, sample the soils from each grapevine and basically innoculate them into this media, with this dye, and incubate it over a period of time. Basically taking pictures of the plate, with all the different samples in the dye, and look for changes from the blue. And we can actually quantify that using a plate reader. So, this is, for us, it’s really instrumental in wide surveys of large areas, but also, it allows us to cultivate the organisms that are actually secreting the siderophores. So, what I mean by that is, we can literally take a single well that has changed color and get the microbes out of that well and put them onto another petri dish and cultivate it. We can then test it for other biochemical reactions. We can look and see if it has plant growth promoting characteristics. There’s a whole host of things that we can actually do with either the organism or extract the DNA and look for the genes that are actually responsible for siderophore production.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So, what’s the ultimate goal there; if to understand, you mentioned that some of these plants are iron deficient and some aren’t; so see whether there’s a different microbial presence in one set of roots than another set of roots? And therefore, be able to hopefully, what? Maybe transfer some of those microbes from one healthy rhizosphere into an unhealthy one?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Potentially. There’s a whole host of things we could actually do, but that would be ideal is if we know that these organisms are adapted to this environment, and we know under the healthy vines we have the siderophore producers that are chelating the iron in such a way that makes those vines healthy, then potentially we could take those organisms and try to inoculate them onto the sick vines. The other things that we’re looking at are, basically, is the function in siderophore production even different between the vines? If there’s no difference, then maybe they aren’t actually impacting iron availability to the plant at all. So there was that hypothesis was one: are they, can we actually link this activity to the health and status of the vine? And so, this is something we at first did through just chlorsis and over the next couple of years, we’re going to start looking at grape quality indicators as well to see how many– what the yield is, what the acidity of the juice is, the color, different things like this and see if any of this might be linked to the microbial activity specifically having to do with iron chelation.

Drew Lyon: So, I suppose there might be a little bit of this chicken and egg thing, right? Because it’s an interaction between the two: is the plant affecting the microbes? Or is the microbes affecting the plant? How do you tease that out?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: That’s a really good question. I would love to explore that more through looking– first taking a healthy vine and following the microbial community and how it changes as the vine gets sicker. Because you’re exactly right. Did the vine actually lose a certain amount of functionality in the rooting zone and then the microbial community changed? Which we have definitely shown in our data, that the communities are completely different.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Or is it something where the healthy vines are secreting very specific molecules to recruit the plant beneficial organisms into the rhizosphere. And so, we don’t actually know which happens first, but we do know that the communities are different, and they do function differently. We’ve actually been able to identify organisms that we cultivated from healthy vines and from the chlorotic vines and find a whole host of different functionality of these different types of organisms. And, one thing that you’ll hear about in macroecology are some concepts like cheating, where there’s some community good and some organism may or may not contribute to that community good, but they are able to utilize it. And so, in the case of siderophores, we’ve actually found in some of the genetic data that we’re looking into that the, a lot of these organisms associated with the sick vines could receive a huge array of siderophores because they’re very specific membrane receptors for these large molecules by the time they’ve found the iron. And yet, they were not producing the same number or the same types of siderophores. So, this was some indication, it’s not proof, but it’s some indication that they can actually sequester iron from not only other microbes in the environment but potentially from what the grape roots could actually sequester themselves. We know that grapes actually secrete hydrogen ions into their rhizosphere to try to acidify.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: And therefore, try to reduce the iron and make it more bioavailable. And the microbes that we found, under the sick vines, were actually able to take advantage of that iron, through their different pathways that we found in their genomes. So, that might indicate that the, even though they’re producing siderophores, when we get them into the lab, they could actually be detrimental to grape health. They’re not pathogens, they’re just cheaters.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So, a grapevine’s a perennial plant; has its root system that develops over a long period of time. Wheat’s an annual.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Right.

Drew Lyon: The root system doesn’t exist as long; of some of these same concepts, could they be applied to wheat? An annual crop like that?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Yes, in fact, wheat is really interesting because it falls into the category of strategy 2 plants. So, when it comes to siderophore production, there are strategy 1 plants and strategy 2 plants. Strategy 2 plants are mostly grasseous type species; wheat is one of those that actually secretes its own phytosiderophores into their rhizosphere.

Drew Lyon: Oh, okay.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: So, there’s a lot of cross-talk, if you will, between the microbes in the rhizosphere of wheat, when it comes to siderophores. So the microbes can secrete the siderophores, but they can also take up the siderophores and wheat can do the same thing. So, wheat can secrete its own phytosiderophores, and it can also take up microbial siderophores. And so, we’ve been looking into how different genotypes or isolines of wheat can impact not only the structure of the microbial community in the rhizosphere, which we talked about a little bit last time, but now we’re also applying this method of siderophore detection to these different wheat genotypes to see if anything that’s happening in the rhizosphere is affecting or being affected by these siderophore producing microorganisms. And, what we found is really fascinating. We had these two different isogenic wheat lines, basically, I’ll call them 2-5 and 2-7, where we knew that 2-5 was tolerant to aluminum. And we’ve talked about how acidification in the Palouse soils is really causing a lot of aluminum to come into solution and it’s causing a lot of yield loss and some other problems. So, we have this isogenic line, 2-5, that’s aluminum tolerant, and it’s been assumed that this is because of an active gene that allows the wheat to secrete malate into the rhizosphere. So, we know malate is another chelating molecule, and it supposedly protects the rooting system from aluminum. And then we have the isogenic lines to that, that’s 2-7, but doesn’t have that active gene that actually transports malate or produces malate in the rhizosphere. And so, we wanted to compare, is the microbial community actually different between the aluminum tolerant and the aluminum susceptible? And what we found was not only is the genetic makeup of the community completely different, but the siderophore production is also completely different.

Drew Lyon: Oh, that’s interesting.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: We found that the tolerant line actually had much– the community associated with that tolerant line had a much higher capability to produce siderophores. So, it’s definitely possible that that malate production or something else in the rhizosphere there, is recruiting these organisms that are able to chelate the aluminum because siderophores don’t just chelate iron; they also chelate a number of other metals.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: It’s possible that they’re chelating the aluminum, and that’s contributing to protecting the rooting system from these aluminum ions blocking the calcium channels.

Drew Lyon: That is really fascinating. And it opens up a whole new avenue of research and sounds like this new technique may be kind of key to helping you get at what’s going on there.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: I certainly think so. It allows us to look at individual genes, whole genomes, metagenomics, as well as, like you said, being able to cultivate the organisms and if they work well for a particular species of crop in one location, potentially they could work where we’re seeing yield decline in other aluminum impacted areas as well. So, I think it has a lot of potential to move things forward, in terms of understating the function of microbes in metal biogeochemistry and how we can use that in agricultural sustainability, for sure.

Drew Lyon: Okay, how do you see taking this technique and moving– moving forward with it in your future research?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Well, the first thing we’re doing right now, Scott Holbert and I are co-advising a student who has actually planted over 30, maybe over 35 different parental lines of wheat, in a couple of the different research farms around Pullman. And we’re going to examine all their above-ground characteristics and look for everything from yield to grain quality to even the micronutrient content of the grain.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: And see if we can tie that to the microbial community siderophore production. And if we can, that’s really huge in terms of micronutrient nutrition, for not only the plant but also the consumers, in the long run.

Drew Lyon: Very, very interesting. So, if our listeners want to learn a little bit more about your work, is there someplace they can go to find that?

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: They can definitely go to the Crop and Soils WSU website, which is css.wsu.edu and look for my faculty page. But hopefully also, by the time this podcast is out, we will have a link to all of these articles that I’ve recently been putting out on the method and on things we’re able to do with the method in the notes for the show.

Drew Lyon: Okay, we’ll make sure we get that web address in the show notes, as well as any links that you have to papers. Well, Tarah, this has been fascinating. I’m really looking forward to finding out what you learn in the coming years. Thank you for sharing this with our listeners today.

Dr. Tarah Sullivan: Thank you, Drew.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon That’s lyon@wsu.edu (drew.lyon@wsu.edu). You can find us online at smallgrains.wsu.edu and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

Everything Weed Management – Wilke Field Day

Join us for the 2019 Wilke Research and Extension Farm Field Day on June 26th at 8 a.m.

We will be discussing “Everything Weed Management” with discussions on:

  • Winter Annual Grassy Weed Control: CoAXium wheat system, Group II herbicide efficacy, pre-emergence herbicide application, herbicide resistance and more (downey brome, jointed Goatgrass, feral rye, and rattail fescue)
  • Broadleaf Weed Control: Mustard, mayweed chamomile, rush skeletonweed, and scouring rush horsetail control in cereal grain systems and more
  • Alternative Crop Weed Control: Weed control benefits and issues of spring canola a cereal grain rotation and weed control in winter and spring legumes
  • No-till Fallow Management: WeedIt technology, demonstration, and updated research results utilizing this technology. This session will also focus on managing no-till fallow beyond glyphosate applications.

Lunch is provided by Hungry Hound BBQ.

Early bird registration is $20. Registration after June 23rd is $25 and must be paid by check only at the door.


For questions or comments, contact Aaron Esser via email at aarons@wsu.edu.

Remember Proper Sprayer Cleanout Can Prevent Crop Injury

In 2017, we received a number of phone calls concerning crop damage in peas treated with herbicides containing the active ingredient clethodim. This year, I recently drove past a chickpea field near Pullman with a large portion of the field exhibiting severe crop damage (see photo). It made me think about 2017 and the need to remind people how important proper sprayer cleanout is, especially when switching from spraying one crop to another. Here is the TT from 2017, which is every bit as relevant in 2019 as it was in 2017.

Clethodim is an ACCase inhibitor (Group 1) used to control grass weeds in broadleaf crops. There is no clethodim activity on broadleaf crops like peas or chickpeas. So why do we sometimes see significant crop injury?

Clethodim products containing 26.4% or 2 pounds of clethodim per gallon (for example, Arrow 2 EC, Clethodim 2 EC, and Select 2 EC) contain as much as 70% petroleum distillates. This high level of petroleum distillates, combined with the required crop oil concentrate and liquid fertilizer additives, can act as a sprayer cleaner, dislodging old herbicide residues that are embedded in tank walls or hoses, resulting in unwanted herbicide residue in the sprayer liquid. It is these residues, and not the clethodim, that are causing crop injury.

The worst damage is typically from the first sprayer load. Plants treated with subsequent sprayer loads show little or no injury from the same herbicide treatment. This type of damage, which is not unique to clethodim products, can be avoided by properly cleaning sprayers between applications, particularly when changing what crop is being treated. While proper sprayer cleanouts are time-consuming, it can save a lot of money and misery. Removing Herbicide Residues from Agricultural Application Equipment is an excellent publication by Purdue Extension that can help you do a good job of sprayer cleanout and possibly save you headaches and dollars down the road.

Chickpea Damage Sprayer Cleanout.
Chickpea damage on the outside edge of a field near Pullman that was likely caused by insufficient cleaning of the sprayer. It appears that the first sprayer load caused significant injury to the chickpea, whereas subsequent sprayer loads did not cause crop injury.

For questions or comments, contact Drew Lyon by phone 509-335-2961 or via email drew.lyon@wsu.edu.

Crops For the Future with Professor Sayed Azam-Ali

Subscribe on iTunes | Android | Stitcher | SoundCloud | SpotifyRSS feed

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned:

Contact Information:

Contact Professor Sayed Azam-Ali via email at sayed.azam-ali@cffresearch.org.


What is a podcast?

For those of you who are newer to the medium, a podcast is like a pre-recorded radio show. In the same way that you turn on a talk radio show, you have to turn on a podcast. The major difference is that while our cars are equipped to find radio frequencies, they are not built to accommodate direct access to podcasts. On your smartphone or computer with internet access (since the files tend to be on the larger side), you can discover podcast shows of any kind, in any field, on any topic.

Listed above are some of the most used podcast hosts. iTunes and the iTunes Podcast app are preinstalled on your iPhone and are the simplest tools to use. You simply search for “WSU Wheat Beat Podcast” in the search bar, hit “subscribe” and the download arrow, and listen whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you use an Android or use another type of smartphone, you will need to find a different podcasting app because those devices don’t come with a preinstalled app like Apple. If you don’t know which podcast app you’d like, simply hit the “Android” link above and it will show you to several Android podcast apps for you to choose from.

After you download an episode, you can listen without using data any time of day. Our goal is to post a new podcast every other Monday. Your podcast app should automatically load our new episodes and download them for you (on WiFi), hands-free if you choose that in the app settings.

If you have further questions about what a podcast is, which app is best for you or need more assistance with getting started with podcasts, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: This episode of the WSU Wheat Beat podcast was recorded on March 22, 2019, during the WSU Plant Science Symposium. The theme of the symposium was foundations for the future, embracing new agricultural technologies. As part of the program, five innovative researchers from across the U.S. and the world agreed to speak about their research. All five researchers also agreed to sit down with me for a few minutes to explain their work, and how it may relate to wheat growers in Eastern Washington.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Welcome back to our special series from the 2019 WSU Plant Science Symposium. My guest today is Sayed Azam-Ali. In 2011, Professor Sayed was appointed as the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Crops for the Future Research Center based near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Crops for the Future is the world’s first center dedicated to underutilized crops for food and nonfood uses. The essential problem tackled by Crops for the Future is that only four major crops now provide over 60% of the world’s food. This extreme lack of diversity in agriculture carries severe risk for global food supply, especially for a rising global population and a hotter, more volatile world. To alleviate these risks, Crops for the Future aims to unravel the potential of currently underutilized crops to diversify the global food basket with nutritious crops in the face of climate change. Hello Sayed.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Hello Drew.

Drew Lyon: So how are we going to feed the estimated 10 billion people who are going to be on this planet in 2050 and a planet that’s also hotter than it is today?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Well, the first thing to do is to recognize how much success we’ve already had. We have actually got global food security. We can always discuss distribution problems and waste and oversee, you know, transport chains and things but the four crops we have already are super-crops. They’re wonderful. They have fed us, and they actually provide the raw materials for most of the food. And maybe something like 65% of the world’s food is coming from four crops but that brings a problem with it because once — they have been successfully feeding 7 billion, 7.4 billion I think now the global population, will there be enough to feed 10 billion and, as you say, on a hotter planet? And if they won’t by themselves, we must look for other crops to complement them because we’re putting enormous pressure on those four crops to actually successfully not just feed us, but they’re providing fuel. And they’re providing, of course, animal feed. And they’re now providing biomaterials and that is a risk. If one of those crops fails, we all suffer.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So what are some of these forgotten foods, and why are they so important to you?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Well, we call them forgotten foods but actually we mean forgotten crops because the crops, of course, could be raw materials for lots of things. So we, ourselves, don’t list the crops. We don’t say here are the next ten. These are going to be the new, you know, we talk about quinoa. And we talk about these crops that suddenly become very significant. And if we do it one by one, it won’t really solve the problem. Each crop has got its own potential but actually what we’re trying to do is identify an approach that we can say — actually, you have to look at each crop following basic rules. The rules are the same. You know we have to start growing it. What is the potential in different conditions? What can we get from it critically? Can we get a market for it? If we can install the germplasm in gene banks, that’s great. But if we can actually use these crops, we must find an end-use. And actually what I’ve learned from 30 years of work in this field is that we have to start at the market end and not at the research genetic resource end. Of course, we’ve got to provide the results later, but we need a pipeline. You know, are we’re looking for energy crops? Are we looking for nutrition? Are you looking for new ways to make snacks that are actually lower in fat and obviously higher in protein? These sorts of issues are all related to what is the end-use that we actually want from our crops? And we call them forgotten foods because there are so many of these crops, of course, that can help diversify the human diet and that really seems to be what’s captured interest is the forgotten food title rather than the forgotten crops title.

Drew Lyon: Okay. I know even here in the states before coming to Washington I was a dryland cropping system specialist in Nebraska trying to diversify the cropping systems, and the markets are really important. So we could identify a lot of crops that sounded really interesting but until you can develop that marketplace and that whole chain of how you move the crop to the — from the field to the market, that’s all very important. And even here in Washington, I think we see the requirement to diversify our farming systems but it’s still difficult to find the markets. And I imagine you just multiply that by a factor of ten or more when you go to some of these other places in the world where they’re not — don’t have the infrastructure we have here in the United States.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: You’re right. But I think if you mention your previous life, this is being, for me, and I’m very pleased that actually, I’m at Washington State University because my Ph.D. was in physics. And a very famous alumnus here, Professor Gaylon Campbell, was the co-supervisor or actually a very close friend of my supervisor, John Monteith. And they — you know, they did some fundamental work in the 70s and 80s on defining physics by physics and how we have to understand the whole system. And at that time it wasn’t very fashionable. We were basically either agriculturalists or, you know, sort of physicists. But what I learned from that is there are a lot of crops around that have suffered and survived. In other words, they’re still around without help, without research, without improvement. What we have to do is actually reconnect with those crops. Some of them will be good. Some of them will be very climate resilient and actually will have properties that we can now look at. So the journey has been a long one, but I really feel now there is public interest in diversity.

Drew Lyon: I think as we look at our student body here, a lot of our students are very interested in, like, quinoa that you mentioned and some of these alternative crops. And so I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm. And maybe it’s a way to attract students. How do you see us getting more students in agriculture?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: You know, at the end of the day the consumer is getting a bit weary. And, of course, eating very similar foods all over the world is exciting at the beginning but later on, you want to go somewhere and eat something different. You want to find something which you haven’t seen before. And therefore there is, I think, a cultural drive now to find new food and look at new ingredients again. And there is a dietary requirement. And one of the interesting things and probably one of the very concerning things is we often think of climate change as it’s going to affect the yield of crops. We think of heat and drought and CO2, of course, itself. What it’s doing is it’s affecting the nutritional content of crops. And this is work. It’s called the great nutrient collapse. And it’s work being done in experiments around the USA as well as around the world looking at the effect of carbon dioxide and the effects it has on micronutrient content of the staple crops. So if you take zinc, selenium, iron, vitamins, they are decreasing with elevated carbon dioxide. Now if we just depend of those crops, we’re going to have a problem because that’s where our micronutrients are coming from. And there is other work now showing that the more diverse your diet, we don’t quite know why, but the more species you eat, the healthier you are because the number of species counts for all the ingredients within them. There are all these interactions in your gut, things which we haven’t really fully understood but it’s clearly associated with healthier lifestyles and therefore diversity is actually a health benefit as well as a cultural one, I think.

Drew Lyon: So you see this diversity as one of the emerging trends in our food systems around the globe today?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: I’m convinced of that because the big industry is now getting interested. And when the big industry gets interested, clearly they are seeing that there is a potential. Now I’ve been around for long enough to know that 20 years ago if I said, “I’ve got a new crop for you,” it would have fallen on dead ears because — deaf ears because they would’ve said well, actually we’ve got perfectly good products already. Can we just improve the product? Can we actually make something out of a potato that looks different? That might give us a different market. The ingredient would still be the same. Now actually, the agri-food sector saying actually we want some more crops. We want ingredients that look and taste and feel different to the ones we’ve got now and once they’re interested — and the consumer is driving this not the agri-food sector — consumers are demanding more interesting food, quite frankly. And the interesting dynamic is it’s coming from the north. You know there is change: food, culture change in a country like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany. I’m sure a large part of the USA, people are now saying actually we’re very interested in artisanal food or food that’s got an identity that’s different from what everybody else is eating and that’s also related to lifestyle. Now we might say it’s all middle-class. And you might just turn around and say well, actually, you can afford that. What about poor people? But it’s also part of that direction because it’s a time bomb. If you actually take health now, we have more fat people than thin people. We have more over-nourished than under-nourished people on the planet. And one of the big time bombs, demographic time bombs we’re facing is something called hidden hunger. Have you heard of hidden hunger?

Drew Lyon: I have not. Tell us a little bit about that.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: So hidden hunger is when you look well-fed but actually, you’re short of micronutrients. And that means your diet, you’re eating plenty of calories because you look pretty good but, you know, you might be overweight but at the end of the day you don’t look ill but your micronutrient deficiencies are affecting. So things like zinc and selenium and iron, these are critical micronutrients that affect brain development. So, young children who are given a very monotonous diet end up having micronutrient deficiencies which, of course, they’ve got for life because it affects their brain development.

Drew Lyon: Right.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: And they are becoming stunted. So we have a generation now of children in middle-class or affluent areas of the world who are actually micronutrient deficient. We call that hidden hunger and that’s why diet is going to be so important because who’s going to pay the bill?

Drew Lyon: Okay. So can you describe or tell us about one or two of these forgotten foods or forgotten crops that — maybe you can give us an example of what you’re doing and how — what kind of impact they have?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Let me give you a couple. Yeah. I mean there is a plant called moringa. Now moringa actually grows as a tree. It’s a shrub. And you can keep chopping the leaves off so it’s once. You know it’s perennial, keep growing it, but it’s got multiple uses. Now in traditional Indian diets, the pods become very — the pods are long. They call it the drumstick tree because it’s like a drumstick and, of course, that’s what people eat. But what we now know is the leaves contain enormous amounts of protein, very healthy, and vitamins. And what we’re doing is drying the leaves and making them into a powder, into something which you can then make into a soup or you can add the noodles or you can make into snack foods and cookies and biscuits and, of course, it’s very nutritious. But another name for the moringa is it’s called a miracle tree because it grows in very, very poor conditions. It originated in the Himalayas but has been spread across Africa and India and Southeast Asia and that is a tree that’s really got the credentials to be a crop of the future because it’s multi-use, resilient, and nutritious. Now that could be made into lots of products. Of course, it’s green. The leaves are green because you know there are certain — some people would find a green food unattractive because we eat green food all the time but that could be addressed. Another crop we’ve got is an African legume called bambara groundnut. And we’ve been growing that and working on that for a very long time. It’s almost our signature crop. And that is one that is grown right across the tropics on a small scale. And again it’s drought resistant. It’s nutritious. And we’re now finding we can make it into food and cuisine, this thing about forgotten foods, old recipes which we can rediscover, on land that’s no longer suitable for the big crops and that’s the breakthrough. Can we grow crops on land that increasingly becomes too vulnerable for our major crops?

Drew Lyon: Okay. So Eastern Washington, wheat is kind of king. We grow a lot of wheat here. We export a lot of wheat here. How can some of what you’re doing — what are some lessons we can take from that for this part of the world?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: I think the first place I would suggest, and I’m not from here and I don’t pretend to advise you on what to do, but what I would ask for us to think about is take a sort of baseline and say what could I grow here? Don’t immediately just start growing it but use our database. We’ve developed models and databases and knowledge systems for about 2,300 crops. And that means we’re not going to tell you which to grow until we’ve run that model and said your soil, your conditions, your environment, your climate, your season gives us a list of maybe 20 crops that would be suitable here. From those, we’ve got two which might have economic potential. From those, we’ve got one that we think could be worth growing. So we’re taking on a lot because we realize it’s farmers who take the risk. If you’re going to take a new crop on and we’re telling you to do it, we better be sure that we’re giving you the right advice. So we would do an initial analysis of your situation, come up with a list of crops, and then you decide what is the end use? Do you want a break crop? Do you want it in a rotation? Do you want it as an economic niche crop, specialty ingredients? These are all issues we can address once we’ve found out whether you can actually grow it or not and what the increasing risk will be. The big thing is as we get into more and more… if your seasons are now becoming very fuzzy because it’s not clear what is winter and what is spring, I notice it’s cold outside, but it’s very bright and sunny today and there might be a late snow. Who knows? These sort of conditions are more frequent, the unpredictability.

Drew Lyon: Right.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: And we’ve got to build unpredictability into the farming system because we can’t guarantee the seasons anymore.

Drew Lyon: So if our growers wanted to go to your organization and find out what crops might work here, where would they go to get that information?

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Well, I think they’d do two things. First, go on to our website which is www.cffresearch.org. And that would give you our website and therefore they’d get an introduction to CFF, Crops of the Future. But I would suggest then they talk to our knowledge base people and say actually we’d like to run this model. We won’t even come and do it. We basically ask you a location and then say given your climate and soil, this is what is potentially growable. And, of course, you could look at that and say actually that’s nonsense. That crop could never grow here. And you might be right. You know, we’re not pretending we’re going to be perfect the first time, but we will reduce the risks by coming up with a list of viable crops that are matched against the agri-climate conditions that you have. And then we can start from there and say is it worth looking at these crops as potential?

Drew Lyon: Okay. And again that’s cffresearch.org.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: That’s the one.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Well, thank you very much. This is a very interesting topic. I’m sure our growers will be interested in it. And I appreciate you taking the time to visit with us.

Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali: Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed it.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon That’s lyon@wsu.edu (drew.lyon@wsu.edu). You can find us online at smallgrains.wsu.edu and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

The WSU Farmers Network with Keith Curran

Subscribe on iTunes | Android | Stitcher | SoundCloud | SpotifyRSS feed

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned:

Contact Information:

Contact Keith Curran via email at keith.curran@wsu.edu.


What is a podcast?

For those of you who are newer to the medium, a podcast is like a pre-recorded radio show. In the same way that you turn on a talk radio show, you have to turn on a podcast. The major difference is that while our cars are equipped to find radio frequencies, they are not built to accommodate direct access to podcasts. On your smartphone or computer with internet access (since the files tend to be on the larger side), you can discover podcast shows of any kind, in any field, on any topic.

Listed above are some of the most used podcast hosts. iTunes and the iTunes Podcast app are preinstalled on your iPhone and are the simplest tools to use. You simply search for “WSU Wheat Beat Podcast” in the search bar, hit “subscribe” and the download arrow, and listen whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you use an Android or use another type of smartphone, you will need to find a different podcasting app because those devices don’t come with a preinstalled app like Apple. If you don’t know which podcast app you’d like, simply hit the “Android” link above and it will show you to several Android podcast apps for you to choose from.

After you download an episode, you can listen without using data any time of day. Our goal is to post a new podcast every other Monday. Your podcast app should automatically load our new episodes and download them for you (on WiFi), hands-free if you choose that in the app settings.

If you have further questions about what a podcast is, which app is best for you or need more assistance with getting started with podcasts, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Hello. Welcome to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. I’m your host, Drew Lyon, and I want to thank you for joining me as we explore the world of small grains production and research at Washington State University. In each episode, I speak with researchers WSU and the USDA-ARS to provide you with insights into the latest research on wheat and barley production. If you enjoy the WSU Wheat Beat podcast do us a favor and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review while you’re there so others can find the show too.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: My guest today is Keith Curran. Keith is a research associate working under Dr. Bill Pan and the project coordinator for the WSU Farmers Network. He began working for the WSU Farmers Network in November of 2018 and is currently developing a database to incorporate new website features to be released in March of this year. Hello, Keith.

Keith Curran: Good afternoon, Dr. Lyon. Thank you for having me.

Drew Lyon: It’s a pleasure. I’d like for you to tell us a little bit more about your Farmers Network. What is it?

Keith Curran: Thank you for asking. The WSU Farmers Network is based on a concept by Dr. Haiying Tao, who’s been working in developing this product for almost two years now. Dr. Tao has been working together with four universities as part of what’s called the DIFM Project. The acronym stands for Data-Intensive Farm Management. And the tools that we’re developing with this group involve big data and machine learning, and it’s fairly revolutionary. While the concept of a farmers network and on-farm collaboration is not a new one, the approach that the WSU Farmers Network is taking is unique and powerful, I believe. The Farmers Network, obviously, is for co-innovation. It’s a co-innovation platform to advance soil and nutrition management, crop productivity, farm sustainability, profit, and you advance these goals through collaborative on-farm research, extension education, and participatory learning. Growers who directly participate in on-farm research have benefited by learning firsthand which practices are better choices and which are able to fine-tune their nutrient management systems and other practices through their collaborative processes.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So, as you said, we’ve had farm — on-farm research for a long time, but this is kind of taking it to a new level.

Keith Curran: Yes.

Drew Lyon: Okay. And why do you think the Farmers Network is an important tool in advancing farming?

Keith Curran: Well, some of the traditional goals of a farmers network is to facilitate information and idea sharing between farmers, agronomist researchers, and other stakeholders. Other goals are to increase, improve, and enhance on-farm research collaboration, and through the function of our advisory committees, targeting research and extension needs to generate scientific publications and extension bulletins. Farming, as you know, is challenging. Farmers have to wear many hats in their day-to-day operations. They manage thousands of acres of crops, often scattered across many miles, and their fields vary by soil, water, climate, fertility, weed, and disease characteristics. They differ in management history, ownership, and landowner restrictions. All of these factors simultaneously interact at different levels to create challenges to information gathering and the application of that information in management. The WSU Farmers Network offers important and unique tools that provides a hosted big data platform in a centralized database from which farmers, stakeholders, and researchers can collect and analyze data, exchange information, and apply what’s been learned. And so the application of these digital tools and technology allow us to collect large amounts of georeferenced, high-resolution, high-quality data that support real-time learning and create low-risk decision making for growers. And that’s really what our goals are, the fundamental goals are.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So this big data idea, I think, that’s kind of what’s been missing for a lot is the ability to handle all this data because you collect a huge amount of data if it’s all site-specific and all of these farms. So that’s really the unique characteristic that’s — you’re bringing to bear on this big problem that we have, is making site-specific recommendations over a geography that’s as variable as eastern Washington.

Keith Curran: Right. And I think when you think about the traditional challenges to do doing something like this, first of all, you’ve got the limited bandwidth of farms. So how do you get their data from their farm up into the cloud, up into our servers for processing into the database and, of course, analysis? Uploading a shapefile on a farm’s metered connection usually will exhaust most farmers’ monthly bandwidth pretty quickly and their patience, I imagine, in a very short amount of time. So we’re trying to make the upload process simple for storing data on our secure database, in our cloud, and parsing that file information into the database schema. Also, when you think about how traditionally researchers — they store their data and their information, it’s not centralized. They store it in Excel files, PDFs, Word. And what we’re trying to do is get everybody to play in the same sandbox, get all that information, get that data onto a centralized database and not have it be scattered amongst the different individuals that are part of the collaborative process so that we’re all working from the same page and facilitating that collaborative efficiency. Obviously, when you’re working with cutting-edge technology, funding is an issue. Licensing, for example, when you bring a file up onto the cloud server from a farmer’s shapefile, for example, parsing that file into the database — if you were to pay somebody to do that and to code that to create the scripts, it’s generally less expensive to license a product or to purchase a product that you can simply retool for that purpose. And so we’ve been investigating different technologies. And so, obviously, we wish to fund these technological innovations at some point, so that’s a challenge as well. And then, finally, creating the tools to perform the data analysis on a server to remove the need from downloading terabytes of data to a local machine where it’s traditionally analyzed and processed — this is what we’re also striving to accomplish. So performing the analysis on the server so that it doesn’t have to be taken off the server, then put back — all these things, I think, are really important towards having a unique and, dare I say, first-to-market solution because there’s not a lot of people that are doing this right now. And so we’re trying to get these tools in place so that we can be one of the first folks to be doing this.

Drew Lyon: Yeah. I would think that would be one of the challenges is — I know how much time I spend in my program bringing data, analyzing the data, thinking about it, what does it mean, getting input — you’ll want to take all this data and have some kind of way of processing fairly quickly because I’m assuming growers aren’t going to wait for three years till you write a journal article to know what their data’s telling them. So there’s going to have to be some kind of process to analyze and interpret that data in a fairly short order, I would think.

Keith Curran: Right. And that’s the beautiful thing about big data and having this. We’re hosting our own server, so the idea is to get farmers to the WSU Farmers Network website, where they can log in and see what’s happening in real time. So I believe that, you know, having them participate and then having a functional web page where they really want to go to it and having the features used by the farmers — that’s important.

Drew Lyon: Okay. So how can farmers participate in the on-farm research if they have an interest in that?

Keith Curran: Well, thank you for asking. Farmers and interested stakeholders can register for membership online at farmersnetwork.wsu.edu. Membership takes only a few seconds and is presently free, although I think that there’s plans to add some paid membership levels of service in the near future to cover the cost of hosting the database and, of course, the licensing for the web server software. But I can also be contacted directly. My contact information is on the website, and I’m located in room 171 in Johnson Hall at the WSU Pullman campus.

Drew Lyon: And email address. Is that a good way to contact you?

Keith Curran: Sure. My email address is my first name, Keith, dot last name, Curran, C-U-R-R-A-N, at wsu.edu. And I welcome your emails.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Well, it’s a very exciting and ambitious goal, but I think it really could be changing the whole way we do on-farm research extension work, so I’m really excited to watch and see how this develops, and I hope growers will go to your website and take a look at it and think about it and perhaps contact you. So, once again, could you give us the web address for the website?

Keith Curran: Sure. It’s farmersnetwork.wsu.edu.

Drew Lyon: All right. Thank you very much, Keith.

Keith Curran: Thank you.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat podcast. If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. If you have questions or topics, you’d like to hear on future episodes please email me at drew.lyon That’s lyon@wsu.edu (drew.lyon@wsu.edu). You can find us online at smallgrains.wsu.edu and on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat podcast is a production of CAHNRS Communications and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon, we’ll see you next time.

Time to Check Canola for Cabbage Seedpod Weevil

If you have canola as part of your rotation and have not yet checked for the presence of Cabbage Seedpod Weevil (Ceutorhynchus obstrictus (Marsham)), then now is the time to do so! Treatment thresholds for this tiny, yet destructive pest, are 3 to 4 adult weevils per sweep or 30 to 40 per (10X) sweeps.  I was northern Douglas County today (5-13-19) and collected 53 and 55 weevils while sweeping separate fields! Using a heavy canvas sweep net, start sampling at the edge of fields and work inwards as you go. Don’t be surprised if you only find this pest concentrated on field borders, but during outbreak infestations, it may be found throughout the entire field.

For more information about this pest, i.e., what it looks like and the biology and impact to canola production, and how to chemically treat it, check out the WSU Extension Fact Sheet FS224E Cabbage Seedpod Weevil Management in Canola.

 

Seedpod Weevil in Canola Flower.

Figure 1: CSPW in winter canola in Douglas County, WA. Photo by Karen Sowers.


For questions or comments, contact Dale Whaley by email at dwhaley@wsu.edu or by phone at 509-745-8531.
Washington State University