Following a two year interruption because of the pandemic, wheat growers and industry partners gathered in Lind, Washington last week for the 104th Lind Field Day, organized by WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. The group converged at WSU’s 1,300-acre Dryland Research Station in Lind, first established in 1915 to support dryland farming with research on hundreds of wheat varieties, alternative crops such as legumes and oilseed crops, soil fertility, and erosion control.
The Field Day included tours in spring and winter wheat plots, where participants visited with university experts to hear about their work in breeding new varieties, testing for yields, resistance to drought and disease, and their effectiveness as a final product in baking, nutrition, and other commercial considerations. While it’s been a largely disease-free year to date, in part thanks to the abundance of rain, growers were asked to monitor their fields for stripe rust and other diseases and to send samples to WSU for disease diagnosis.
Researchers also presented on the latest in weed sensing sprayer technology that utilizes blue light sensors to separate crop from weed. WSU researchers have witnessed a 70 to 90 percent reduction in herbicide and pesticide application at its research farm in Davenport. The new sprayer technology utilizes a series of sensors that have hundreds of small sensors to analyze the plants. Researchers reported there are still bugs to be worked out of these systems and that more technological improvements are on the way.
The Washington agricultural economy recorded exports of nearly $1 billion in wheat alone last year. The experimentation, counsel, and trial and error offered by WSU through the work of the Lind Station helps the industry feed the world and generate economic activity for their communities.
Lind Field Day has been cancelled only three times in 107 years, twice for the COVID-19 pandemic and once for the Mount St. Helens eruption. WSU holds field day events at multiple locations across the state and for multiple crops as part of its efforts to bring the research it conducts in the lab and in the field to producers directly and answer their questions.