WSU BIOAg program hires coordinator, receives funding

WSU soil scientist Lynne Carpenter-Boggs has been named coordinator for the university’s Biologically Intensive Agriculture and Organic Farming (BIOAg) program. 
Carpenter-Boggs currently serves as an instructor and researcher in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.  She holds a doctorate in soil sciences from WSU, as well as a master’s degree from Iowa State University and a bachelor of science degree from Northland College.  Previously, she worked as a researcher in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, and as a soil microbiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Morris, Minn.  She will begin her new position May 1.
BIOAg is part of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, which the state legislature recently approved for a one-year, $400,000 funding appropriation. 
CSANR has spent several years developing the program with a vision for establishing a grants program for research, demonstration farms, more educational offerings and more research into links between food production and nutrition, said David Granatstein, WSU Extension educator and the lead author of the program.
Biologically intensive agriculture refers to farming practices and systems that emphasize natural biological processes that can reduce the use of costly chemical fertilizers, pest controls and other synthetic farm inputs.  Organic farming is one example of the application of BIOAg systems.
“Interest in sustainability is expanding world wide with the challenges of energy supply, climate change, and new pests and diseases providing citizens with a daily reminder of why,” Granatstein said. “Growers across our state need near-term solutions for renewable nitrogen, biological pest control and soil quality improvement, and the state funding for BIOAg will target these and other specific areas of need.”
BIOAg is an interdisciplinary program involving participation and resources from multiple WSU colleges and departments. As coordinator, Carpenter-Boggs will be responsible for identifying and tapping the university’s capacity across colleges and disciplines to research and document the effectiveness of BIOAg farming techniques.

“BIOAg research will benefit all sectors of Washington state agriculture,” said CSANR director Chris Feise.  “The organic market nationally continues to grow about 20 percent a year, and conventional growers are eager for effective alternatives to costly and increasingly regulated and restricted chemicals.”

Feise said the coalition that supported funding in the legislature for the program was unprecedented in cutting across all sectors of agriculture.

“BIOAg funding was supported by groups as diverse in their views as the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, the Washington State Grange, several chambers of commerce and the Washington Wine Growers Association on one hand; and the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, Puget Consumers Co-op, the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Cascade Harvest Coalition on the other,” Feise said. “They all share an interest in providing growers in our state with new and effective tools to not only sustain the state’s largest industry but in helping it grow and thrive.”

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