OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of agricultural sciences

National Pesticide Information Center beefs up mobile presence with $5 million award

CORVALLIS, Ore. – People with questions about using pesticides correctly now can get answers on their smartphones and tablets, thanks to expanded online services offered by the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at Oregon State University.

The center, which operates a national hotline, is growing its fleet of mobile apps, interactive content, video tutorials, and webinars for the medical community and state and federal regulators.

The efforts are funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, which announced the award Tuesday.

"The award represents a new vision for our national service that emphasizes modern online and mobile delivery. We want to be where people are when they need us," said Kaci Buhl, project coordinator for the center. "Online content allows us to better fulfill our mission of limiting the misuse of pesticides, reducing risk and promoting public health."

OSU has operated the national service since 1995, which is funded by the EPA in three- to five-year cycles.

Last year, more than 1.8 million visitors accessed NPIC's website, which received over 32 million overall hits. The service also answered questions from more than 17,000 people by phone and email.

The NPIC has also launched four mobile-friendly apps. The most popular, the Pesticide Education and Search Tool (PEST), offers quick, bulleted information on more than a dozen common pests. The four apps aim to be immediately accessible to users and suggest alternatives to pesticides for common urban pests, like fleas, rodents and bed bugs.

The service also continues to add hundreds of pages and new services to its website, including a ZIP code-driven locator for emergency services. It is also beefing up its presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. The NPIC's website and mobile apps can be found at http://npic.orst.edu.

The NPIC's toll-free hotline is available in over 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi. Each submitted question is handled by an expert with advanced training in toxicology, food safety, veterinary medicine or other scientific field.

"While we offer a diverse array of services, each one aims to present the latest non-biased information. We encourage our clients to follow label instructions, steer them away from home remedies and direct them to a range of non-chemical options to control pests," said Dave Stone, the center's director and professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The NPIC also collects data on pesticide incidents to inform national surveillance systems. For example, the Centers for Disease Control recently used the NPIC's data to issue an advisory about the misuse of pesticides for bed bug control.

The hotline can be reached at 1-800-858-7378 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday. NPIC's number is displayed prominently on the EPA website and on many product labels.

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Dave Stone, 541-737-4433; Kaci Buhl, 541-737-8330

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National Pesticide Information Center

NPIC Director Dave Stone will guide the center through a $5 million effort to expand its mobile and online pesticide information services. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)
 

National Pesticide Information Center

Since 1995, the NPIC's toll-free national hotline has called OSU home and is now available in over 170 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Farsi. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)

OSU app brings wildflower identification to your fingertips

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Information about the Pacific Northwest's wide array of wildflowers is just a swipe away with a new mobile app designed in part by botanists at Oregon State University.

 Available for download on iOS and Android devices, the Oregon Wildflowers app provides multimedia and information on nearly 1,000 wildflowers, shrubs and vines common in Oregon and adjacent areas in Idaho, Washington and California.

 For each plant, the app offers photographs, natural history, range maps and more. It works without an Internet connection once downloaded.

 "You can use the app no matter how remote your wanderings may take you," said Linda Hardison, the director of the Oregon Flora Project, an OSU effort to develop resources, like the new app, to help people learn about plants in Oregon.

"It's designed for both budding wildflower enthusiasts and experienced botanists to learn about plant communities and ecology throughout the Pacific Northwest," added Hardison, a botanist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

 The majority of species featured in the app are native to the region, with some introduced species that have become established. Plants are organized by common name, scientific name or family, which app users can identify by browsing through high-resolution photographs.

 To identify an unknown plant, users can select from 12 illustrated categories, which include geographic region, type of plant, flower features (color, number of petals), leaf features (type and shape), plant size and habitat.

 The app is available at Amazon, Apple and Google app stores for $7.99 and is compatible with all Android devices, Kindle Fire, iPhones and iPads. A portion of revenues will support conservation and botanical exploration in the region, said Hardison, a professor in OSU's Botany and Plant Pathology Department.

The Oregon Flora Project is also preparing a new Flora of Oregon publication for release in 2015. The last book about the flora for Oregon was written in the 1950s, said Hardison. The new edition will be updated to reflect the latest scientific research.

The Oregon Flora Project website contains additional information about all of Oregon’s 4,560 vascular plants. Its mission is to inform a broad citizenry, from policy makers to land use managers, climate change scientists, gardeners, and plant enthusiasts, and to foster effective use of this information by all.

 The Oregon Wildflowers app was developed in partnership with High Country Apps, which specializes in providing natural history information on mobile platforms

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Linda Hardison, 541-737-4338

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Beargrass

Beargrass grows in Oregon's Cascade Range. The Oregon Wildflower app offers photographs, natural history, range maps and more for nearly 1000 plants. (Photo by Tanya Harvey.)


 Oregon Wildflowers app

Screenshots of the Oregon Wildflower app:

As antibiotics ban nears, organic orchards have new tools to fight fire blight

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University researchers have proven the effectiveness of two organic alternatives for controlling a disease that can wipe out entire apple and pear orchards.

Scientists found that spraying a yeast-based product and new water-soluble copper products at the beginning of the growing season provided protection from the bacterial disease.

The findings come as organic growers prepare for a probable ban on two antibiotics previously allowed by the National Organics Standards Board. At the end of this year's growing season, oxytetracycline and potentially streptomycin will no longer be permitted in organic orchards for fire blight, a serious bacterial disease that can kill trees.

Spread by bees and rain, fire blight remains dormant in trees over winter and infects flowers in spring. Once infected, growers can only stop the disease by cutting out infections, which can prove fatal.

"In some cases, fire blight can kill a whole orchard in a short period of time," said OSU plant pathologist Ken Johnson.

Organic pome fruit growers are encouraged to test new approaches this year before antibiotics are no longer available as backup choices, added Johnson.

In OSU trials, researchers tested the commercially available Blossom Protect, a yeast that clings to apple blossoms and pears and prevents colonization by fire blight bacteria.

Blossom Protect was developed in Europe and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012. In apples, it was 90 percent effective when sprayed after lime sulfur to reduce crop load.

Copper has been used for fire blight for almost a century, but heavy applications can be toxic to trees or create rough blemishes on fruit, known as russeting – which downgrades the value. New water-soluble copper products, such as Cueva and Previsto, contain low concentrations of the metal, which lessens its negative effects while still combating fire blight, said Johnson.

"Whereas growers used to be scared to spray copper, the solubilized versions are safer than coppers from yesteryear," said Johnson, a professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Since the National Organic Program began in 2002, the use of antibiotics was allowed to control fire blight on apples and pears because no effective alternative was available at the time.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Tim Smith from Washington State University and Rachel Elkins from University of California Cooperative Extension also contributed research. The research team prepared a webinar on non-antibiotic treatment of fire blight, which is at: http://bit.ly/FireBlightWebinar.

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Ken Johnson, 541-737-5249

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Fire blight

Wilted leaves on pear and apple trees are a sign of fire blight, a bacterial disease that can spread quickly and kill an orchard. (Photo by Ken Johnson.)

OSU hires Penn State viticulturist to head its wine research program

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has hired Penn State's top wine grape expert to lead its wine research and outreach program.

Mark Chien will take over as the program coordinator of OSU's Oregon Wine Research Institute on May 28. He was previously tasked with elevating the quality of Pennsylvania wines as the administrator of the Penn State Wine Grape Program.

OSU's wine institute is comprised of 12 core scientists with expertise in areas that include viticulture, enology, pest management, flavor chemistry and sensory analysis. It’s a virtual institute with offices and labs at OSU's Corvallis campus and several of its research centers around the state. Its mission is to address the needs of Oregon's wine industry through research and educational outreach.

Chien's position is a new one and has more of a coordinating and facilitating role than a directing role. The institute is led by interim director Bill Boggess, but that position will cease to exist once Chien arrives. The idea is for leadership to come from the scientists as opposed to having a top-down approach in which one person sets the research focus, said Boggess, who will continue to serve as executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences with overall responsibility for the institute.

Chien will manage the institute's daily operations, monitor progress on funded projects, oversee its educational outreach efforts, help attract resources and facilitate communication and engagement with the industry. He'll spend his initial months traveling around the state to meet with industry representatives and find out what kind of research they need OSU to carry out.

"I don't have an agenda," he said. "I'll get a sense of what the industry wants and match that with resources here. Part of my job is to make sure that there's open communication between industry and researchers and that expectations are clear."

Chien is no stranger to Oregon, which was home to 905 vineyards and 379 grape-crushing wineries in 2012, according to the Southern Oregon University Research Center. Chien managed the grape-growing operations at Temperance Hill Vineyard near Salem from 1985-1999. During that time, he helped establish research priorities for the then-Oregon Wine Advisory Board and helped OSU acquire Woodhall Vineyard. He also helped create the viticulture and enology program at Chemeketa Community College and the nonprofit known as LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), which certifies vineyards and wineries that use sustainable practices.

From 1983-85, he was the vineyard manager and winemaker at Pindar Vineyards in New York.

The Pennsylvania State University hired him in 1999 as its viticulture educator to establish its wine grape Extension program, with the ultimate goal of helping the state's vineyards improve the quality of their grapes. The eastern United States, including Pennsylvania, is arguably one of the hardest places in the world to grow grapes for high-quality wine, he said. While there, he provided empirical and research-based information to growers via a website, an electronic newsletter, workshops and field demonstrations.

OSU hired Chien because of his experience in the public and private sectors, Boggess said.

"Mark had a foot in industry at Temperance Hill and he understands the academic side from his Penn State work," Boggess said. "He's already well-known in Oregon and has good connections with national research groups and funding sources."

Media Contact: 
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 Mark Chien; Bill Boggess, 541-737-2331

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Mark Chien

Mark Chien is the new head of Oregon State University's Oregon Wine Research Institute. Photo by Stephen Ward.

OSU to host Art About Agriculture reception April 16

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The work of 13 handpicked artists illustrating food and agriculture is in an exhibition now open at Oregon State University.

OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences is sponsoring the 32nd annual Art About Agriculture exhibition, which is on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through April 28 at LaSells Stewart Center. A reception at which the public can meet the artists is set April 16 from 6-8 p.m. Admission is free.

This year's art explores the availability of food and agricultural products, and concepts relevant to agricultural bounty and community in cities, towns and villages, said curator Shelley Curtis. Artists depict this theme in a range of mediums, including mixed media, oil and wood.

Participating artists are:

Susan Burnes — Rogue River, Ore.

Lisa Caballero — Portland, Ore.

Mark Clarke — Eugene, Ore.

Jon Jay Cruson — Eugene, Ore.

Kim Hamblin — Sheridan, Ore.

Eric Jacobsen — Glenwood, Wash.

Diane Kingzett — Portland, Ore.

David Mensing — Albion, Idaho

Caleb Meyer — Twin Falls, Idaho

Larry Passmore — Corvallis, Ore.

Sarah Tabbert — Fairbanks, Alaska

Noel Thomas — Astoria, Ore.

David Wilson — Missoula, Mont.

For more information, go to http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/art.

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Shelley Curtis, 541-737-2662

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Cruson_3-resize

Artist Jon Jay Cruson painted "Roadside Stand to Table #3" for the Art About Agriculture exhibition at Oregon State University. (Photo by Jon Jay Cruson)

OSU finds new compound that could treat autoimmune diseases

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists at Oregon State University have discovered a chemical compound that could be a safer alternative for treating autoimmune diseases.

Although studies in humans are still needed, the finding could bring hope to people suffering from conditions caused by their immune system attacking their bodies. Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body resulting in diseases such as colitis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

"We mostly treat autoimmune diseases with high-dose corticosteroids or cytotoxic drugs to suppress the immune response, and the side effects can be very difficult to deal with," said lead researcher Nancy Kerkvliet. "But if this chemical works in clinical studies, it could result in a safer alternative to conventional drugs."

Kerkvliet collaborated with OSU professor Siva Kumar Kolluri and other colleagues who tested thousands of chemical compounds and found that one of them, 10-Cl-BBQ, binds to a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) inside T cells, which are essential white blood cells. They found that the chemical and AhR then pass into the nucleus and change the cells into regulatory T cells (called Tregs), which shut down the immune response.

Kerkvliet said 10-Cl-BBQ is different from other treatments used to suppress the immune system because it acts directly in the T cells to turn them into regulatory T cells. She believes this will result in fewer side effects than currently used drugs. The scientists also discovered two other compounds in the benzimidazoisoquinoline (BBQ) family that induced regulatory T cells.

The researchers tested 10-Cl-BBQ in mice that had graft-versus-host disease, a condition in which the immune system tries to eliminate foreign cells. The disease can occur in humans when they receive stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The scientists found that daily injections of 10-Cl-BBQ completely suppressed the disease.

The compound was rapidly metabolized and excreted and wasn't toxic at the dosage used, thereby making it a potential candidate for drug development, said Kerkvliet, a professor of immunotoxicology in OSU's Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

On a cellular level, the chemical works like the notorious environmental contaminant that's known as TCDD, a type of dioxin. But the chemical doesn't have the harmful side effects, Kerkvliet said. TCDD is perhaps best-known for its presence in the jungle-defoliating Agent Orange herbicide used during the Vietnam War. Kerkvliet has spent most of her career studying how the dioxin suppresses immune responses.

"We spent all these years studying dioxin because people have been concerned about its presence in the environment," she said. "Yet, look what we have now discovered from those basic toxicology studies."

The journal PLOS ONE published the research with the title "Benzimidazoisoquinolines: A New Class of Rapidly Metabolized Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) Ligands that Induce AhR-Dependent Tregs and Prevent Murine Graft-Versus-Host Disease." It is online at http://hdl.handle.net/1957/46244.  

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences funded the research.

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Nancy Kerkvliet, 541-737-4387

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Nancy Kerkvliet
Nancy Kerkvliet, a professor of immunotoxicology at Oregon State University, has discovered a chemical compound that could be a safer alternative to current treatments for autoimmune diseases. (Photo by Stephen Ward.)

History of hops and brewing chronicled on new OSU archive

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon is at the epicenter of a thriving craft-brew industry, and Oregon State University is helping shape the movement – from creating new barley varieties, to offering courses for home brewers, to its growing fermentation science program, which has a Pilot Plant Brewhouse where student brewers create new beers.

Now, the university is going a step further as it actively preserves the rich history of hops and craft brewing.

Recognizing the need to document the intertwined story of hop production and the craft brewing movement in Oregon, the Special Collections & Archives Research Center at OSU Libraries & Press established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives in summer 2013. This month, the official launch of the online archives will be celebrated in appropriate style with “Tap into History” on March 28 at the McMenamins Mission Theater in Portland.

The archive’s goal is to collect and provide access to records related to hops production and the craft brewing industries in Oregon. The first archive in the United States dedicated to hops and beer, it will bring together a wealth of materials in hardcopy and digital formats enabling people to study and appreciate these movements. The work melds the social and economic aspects of brewing in Oregon with the hard science behind the beer research being done at OSU.

The university already has strong collections related to the history of hops, barley, and fermentation research at OSU, but scholars are gathering resources from beyond the campus as well.

“There are valuable items in historical societies, in the boxes of marketing materials in a brewer’s garage, in the computer records of operations at hop farms, on beer blogs, in social media communities, and in the stories that haven’t been recorded,” said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, archivist for the collection.

“While we are interested in adding new items to build the archive, we also want to be a portal to collections through the state, partnering with people in heritage and history communities, state agencies, hops farmers, craft brewers, home brewers, and the general community to think collectively about how to preserve and provide access to this history.”

The free "Tap into History" event at the Mission Theater, which begins at 7 p.m., includes a panel on brewing history in Oregon. Among the topics:

  • Edmunson-Morton will talk about the project and its impact.
  • Peter Kopp, an agricultural historian, will talk about his use of archival materials and the relevance for researchers.
  • John Foyston, an Oregonian writer since 1987 and noted beer columnist, will talk about his work documenting the Oregon beer scene.
  • Irene Firmat, CEO and co-founder of Full Sail Brewing Company, will talk about her work as a female brewing pioneer.
  • Daniel Sharp, a Ph.D. student in the OSU College of Agriculture's Fermentation Science program, will talk about his research and the program.

The event concludes with screenings from "Hopstories," a collection of short videos showcasing breweries in Oregon, and OPB's Beervana, a documentary about the history of beer and the rise of craft brewing in Oregon. The McMenamins Mission Theater is located at 1624 N.W. Glisan St., Portland.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/brewingarchives

 

 

 

 

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Tiah Edmunson-Morton, 541-737-7387

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Grafting hop varieties

House committee OKs exemption allowing OSU Experiment Station flexibility to relocate

HERMISTON, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center, which is mostly located within the city limits, is one step closer to gaining the flexibility to relocate when necessitated by population growth, following legislation approved this week by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

The OSU research and extension center is subject to an obscure federal rule, known as a “reverter,” which would be triggered if changes of use and/or location of the facility were enacted. This rule would lead to ownership of the land and infrastructure reverting back to the federal government.

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved an exclusion to this federal reversionary clause – exempting the OSU facility from the requirement – and forwarded it to the floor of the House for its consideration. Full House consideration has not yet been scheduled.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., led the push to gain the exemption, with support from community stakeholders, local elected officials, OSU agricultural leaders and OSU President Edward J. Ray.

“The growth of Hermiston and the expanding scope of the center will make it desirable to move the center to a more appropriate location in the future,” said Philip B. Hamm, director of the OSU facility. “The move has had the support of city and regional leaders, as well as the agricultural industry that the center supports. Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Walden and his staff, we are now a step closer to resolving this problem.”

The Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of 12 OSU Agricultural Experiment Stations located throughout the state. It has supported agriculture in the Columbia River basin for more than a century. The region is a highly diversified agricultural region where more than 200 different crops are grown.

With its state-of-the-art laboratories, irrigation technology capabilities, research programs and extension efforts, the center supports crops on nearly 500,000 acres of high-value irrigated land, much of it in Morrow and Umatilla counties. In recent years, the center’s research and outreach helped local growers diversify production and convert 30,000 acres of traditional commodity crops to different, high-value crops – resulting in more than $50 million in annual economic returns.

“While the station has no immediate plans to move in the near future, the removal of this reversionary clause will allow OSU to sell the property when development in Hermiston reaches the center’s border,” Hamm said. “It will allow the center to purchase new land, erect laboratories, and install irrigation infrastructure to continue supporting agriculture with new research based on information – as it has for the past 104 years.”

H.R. 3366 provides for “the release of the property interests retained by the United States in certain land conveyed in 1954 by the United States, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, to the State of Oregon for the establishment of the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center of Oregon State University in Hermiston, Oregon.”

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Philip Hamm, 541-567-6337; philip.b.hamm@oregonstate.edu

Oregon State ranks seventh worldwide in agriculture and forestry

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been recognized as a world-class center in agriculture and forestry, ranking seventh in a new international survey of more than 200 schools.

For the second year, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings has compiled a list of top agriculture and forestry institutions. The service considered nearly 3,000 universities in 30 subject areas in its overall review.

In 2013, OSU's agriculture and forestry programs placed eighth in the world.

“Our rising world ranking is a testament to the continued great work of our faculty and researchers,” said Dan Arp, dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

“We’re excited about another top global ranking that recognizes the breadth and depth of our research and teaching, and our great partnership with the College of Agricultural Sciences,” said Thomas Maness, dean of OSU’s College of Forestry. “It’s very satisfying to see the excellence of our faculty and students recognized internationally.”

Considered one of the most influential and respected firms surveying higher education, QS World University Rankings uses a variety of metrics to score universities in teaching and research, including academic and employer reputation surveys, the number of articles published in academic journals and the amount of citations generated by publications.

As the state's Land Grant University, Oregon State and its agricultural and forestry programs have been a vital component of the school's mission since its founding in 1870. The College of Agricultural Sciences is Oregon's principal source of knowledge and research in agricultural and food systems, environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences and rural economies.

In recent years, OSU's agricultural programs have also received national top-tier rankings from the Chronicle of Higher Education for research, with wildlife science and conservation biology ranking first, fisheries science second, botany and plant pathology and forest resources at fifth, and agricultural and resource economics seventh.

OSU's College of Forestry has also been recognized as the top university program of its kind in North America by the Journal of Forestry.

The College of Forestry is Oregon’s principal forest-related research institution, strengthening understanding of forested ecosystems, helping forest-based businesses compete globally, and informing public policy that balances environmental protection and economic development. 

Media Contact: 
Source: 

Dan Arp, 541-737-1297;

Tom Maness, 541-737-1585;

Bill Boggess, 541-737-2331

Ann Mary Quarandillo, 541-737-3140

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OSU College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Dan Arp

Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, talks with an OSU student on a research farm. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

OSU College of Forestry

OSU Extension Forestry Educator Tim Delano teaches high school students about forestry in the Hopkins Demonstration Forest near Oregon City, Oregon. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Agricultural Research Foundation funds new OSU research

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Agricultural Research Foundation of Oregon has announced grants totaling $420,314 for projects in agriculture, chemistry, horticulture, and veterinary medicine at Oregon State University.

The 34 research projects funded this year represent a wide range of disciplines, from restoring sustainable environments to fighting disease in food crops, according to Kelvin Koong, the executive director of the Agricultural Research Foundation.

"We support research as broad as possible that enhances productivity and efficiency in agriculture, natural resources and the environment," said Koong. "Research is not restricted to any one college or discipline, as industries use new technology, knowledge and equipment to boost production."

Among the projects selected for the foundation’s funds:

  • The potential for hazelnut livestock feed to improve meat quality, shelf-life and nutrition;
  • Enhancing the nutritional value of oil seeds in poultry diets;
  • Elimination of Vibrio toxins from oysters;
  • Feeding selenium-fertilized hay to pregnant cows to improve calf performance;
  • Activating the immune system of potatoes to control disease;
  • The development of value-added food products from barley.

OSU researchers began using the funds on Feb. 1.

In more than 80 years distributing grants, the Agricultural Research Foundation has given more than $16 million to OSU scientists – in addition to channeling $157 million in donor gifts to the university's researchers.

The foundation is a private, non-profit corporation and an affiliate of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. The board of directors is made up of representatives of numerous segments of Oregon's agriculture industry. Grants awarded during 2014-16 are dedicated to its founding members: William Schoenfeld, Ralph Besse, Judge Guy Boyington and R.L. Clark.

For more information about the Competitive Grants Program, contact Koong at 541-737-4066.

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Kelvin Koong, 541-737-4066

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Oysters

OSU researchers in Astoria make raw oysters safer to eat by removing toxins from the shellfish, a project supported by a grant from the Agricultural Research Foundation. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)