Today’s agricultural practices take a toll on the environment. They emit greenhouse gases, pollute waterways, and gobble up vast quantities of resources. WSU scientists seek ways to minimize agriculture’s environmental footprint. They are devising methods to improve the efficiency of crop planting and harvesting, reduce use of chemicals for managing weeds and pests, and mitigate soil erosion, waterway pollution, and resource consumption.
Imagine if agricultural operations could act as a “sink,” sequestering carbon dioxide in the soil and reducing the global greenhouse effect. Scholars at WSU aim to make this concept a reality. They are investigating “climate-friendly” farming practices that reduce methane emissions, restore soil carbon, and replace fossil fuels with fuels made from biomass. By encouraging and educating farmers about these methods—which are as economically viable as they are environmentally sound—WSU scholars hope to dramatically reduce agriculture’s contributions to global climate change, environmental pollution, and resource consumption.
Researchers are investigating the use of three-dimensional visioning systems to automate labor-intensive pruning operations, robotic systems to harvest and move fruit from orchards, and a sensor-based system for precise water management.