Research

Collaborative on-farm research projects involving Washington State University (WSU) faculty and WSU Extension are conducted regularly at S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Homestead Farm, which is a WSU Demonstration Farm and a WSU BIOAg Learning Site.

Research projects, courses and workshops conducted by the Center include:

  • Strawbale Construction
    In 2000, a farm team collaborated with strawbale designer, Jan Scilipoti, to construct a 450-square foot building to house interns and other guests to the farm.
  • Small-Scale Grain Raising
    This study looked at the technical and economic feasibility of growing organic grain, in this case barley, on small acreage. 
     
  • 5-year Crop Rotation
    As a biodynamic farm, S&S Homestead is committed to the goal of self-suffiency, including self-renewing soil fertility. The project tests a rotational schedule on three 1-acre fields, alternating harvestable grain crops with legumes (including beans) and other green crops to increase soil organic matter and nitrogen.     
  • Solar Powered Micro-Irrigation
    Construction of a rain catchment system that collects water from two barn roofs, and funnels excess water to a cistern that overflows into open swales to a fenced pond.

  • Biological Food Production
    In 2004, the farm worked with high school students and WSU faculty to create a for-credit agricultural science class to teach how to grow nutritious vegetables year round using low-cost, environmentally friendly techniques, how to cook the food, and work with school staff to develop school menus that use island produce year round.
  • Bio-Intensive Forage Production
    The 2004-7 study shows biodynamic stimulant materials can be created on the farm as economically and ecologically viable alternatives to liming.
  • Bean Trials
    In 2004, in collaboration with WSU plant systems specialist, Dr. Carol Miles, and summer intern, Tasha Wilson, the farm conducted field trials of 23 varieties of beans to determine which are best suited for local soil conditions and climate.
  • Growing Historical Wheat
    Since 2007, the farm has been trialing historical wheat varieties developed by Steven Jones, WSU wheat breeder, who is seeking to update pre-Green Revolution wheat to perform as well as conventional varieties without requiring chemical inputs. The farm goal is to produce enough wheat to meet its household needs.
  • Constructing a Portable Hoophouse
    In 2004, high school students helped construct an energy-efficient hoophouse on the Farm that is used as part of an agricultural science elective class.