Hazelnut research to set bar for irrigation

Chad Higgins, a professor at Oregon State University's Biological and Environmental Engineering program, is conducting experiments to improve hazelnut irrigation techniques. Soil sensors in the ground, evaoration sensors in the air and sensors in the tree will measure water circulating through the orchard.

Chad Higgins, an Oregon State University agricultural engineering professor, stands beneath a 30-foot steel tower in the middle of a hazelnut orchard a few miles southwest of Amity, and points up to a jaw-like contraption that looks like it should adorn the side of a spaceship.

These sensors, he says, will measure water that evaporates from the ground and the trees into the air from a 15-acre portion of the orchard.

Potatoes get revamped

Most potatoes are rich in vitamin C, which is essential to grow and repair body tissues, support the immune system, and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth. Potassium, also high in potatoes, reduces high blood pressure, benefits the heart and kidneys, and tends to reduce the effects of anxiety and stress. Minimal research has been completed on the other vitamins and nutrients in potatoes.

This is why Aymeric Goyer, associate professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, studied the levels of vitamin B9, or folate, in different potatoes.

Head start on better berries

Oregon State University researchers have finished and published an $890,000, 10-year study about the best ways to grow organic blueberries.

Not that growers have been waiting this whole time. They have been implementing the techniques for years as they learned through field days and presentations about the benefits of raised beds, feather meal fertilizer and weed mats.

“Growers will jump on things sometimes quickly,” said Bernandine Strik, lead researcher for the project, conducted on a one-acre block at OSU’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center.

New 'Buck' naked barley to impact food, feed, brew

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) are giving an ancient grain a new life: this barley is naked, but not in an indecent way. Most barley grains are covered rather than naked. Covered varieties have a hull—or outer layer—firmly attached to the grain. The hull on 'Buck'—as in "Buck-naked"—doesn't hang on to the grain. Instead, the hulls fall off during harvest. "Even barley geneticists try to have a sense of humor," said Patrick Hayes, crop scientist. Hayes is part of the OSU Barley Project, a team of barley enthusiasts and breeders.

New sensor technology enables precision agriculture

"Higgins heads the NEWAg Lab (Nexus of Energy, Water, and Agriculture) in OSU’s Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, a laboratory for precision agriculture. “New sensors make it possible to measure more things than the human brain can comprehend. We need new ways to process this information to sort out what is important,” Higgins says."