Featured Stories

Innovative funds support, new, creative work


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - OSU Extension Christmas Tree specialist Chal Landgren with a newly grafted noble fir for the NWREC seed orchard.For the past two years, the Clackamas Extension Innovative Fund Program has offered grants to Extension faculty and staff working in the region who want to try their next creative idea — but need financial help to get the concept off the ground.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Nick Andrews measuring cucumber growth and development inhis vegetable degree day project.Each year the Clackamas County Extension 4-H Service District has provided $100,000 from the Innovative Fund Program to support this new work. Eligible faculty and staff include those located at the Clackamas County Extension office in Oregon City and the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora.

In 2008, voters in Clackamas County passed a ballot initiative forming and funding a service district to support the OSU Extension Service in that county. Funds for Extension programs and activities now come from a property tax assessment levied each year by the county commissioners.

Adequate funding for Extension has allowed programs to grow and serve broader needs throughout the county, plus support new opportunities like the Extension Innovative Fund Program.

According to Extension Regional Director, Mike Bondi, creator of the program, “We are very fortunate to have the resources to support this new work in the county. Our goal is to catalyze new work that encourages our faculty and staff to take an idea and test it out or get it into practice. We see ourselves as a place to try a concept, get experience, collect useful data — and, use these pilot projects to help our people be more competitive when searching for additional and larger external sources of funding to sustain successful and high-impact programs.”

During 2013, the Clackamas Innovative Fund Program sponsored four projects led by faculty at NWREC. Here’s a quick summary of these projects:

n Caneberry Management Outreach to the Russian Community (Bernadine Strik, berry crops specialist — NWREC): The Russian community grows about 10-15 percent of the caneberry production in Oregon. But, many of these growers aren’t fully literate in English and rarely attend extension education programs due to language and cultural reasons. New Russian language publications were developed and a Russian language workshop on caneberry nutrition was taught in 2013.

n Degree Day Modeling for Vegetable Crops (Nick Andrews, small farms extension agent — NWREC): Understanding growth cycles in plants — triggered by temperatures throughout the growing season — will help farmers become better managers by improving timing for cultural practices like fertilization and pest management — and be able to better predict harvesting for market timing. Twelve Clackamas County farmers participated to gather on farm data for their crops that will go into sophisticated computer models to be used by our farmers.

n Christmas Tree Seed Orchard Development (Chal Landgren, Christmas tree specialist — NWREC): A new tree seed orchard has been established at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center for noble fir and Turkish fir Christmas trees. Controlled tree breeding and seed production will now be possible and will help the industry find the next “perfect” Christmas tree —through genetic improvement.

n Mistigation — a novel technique for Spotted Wing Drosophila control (Wei Yang, berry crops extension agent — NWREC): Injecting insecticides into irrigation lines in berry crop production fields is a new concept for controlling the growing infestations in the region by Spotted Wing Drosophila. Currently, growers have to use ground-based airblast sprayers and helicopters for pesticide applications. Mistigation is being evaluated to provide a more effective control program that will use significantly less pesticide, plus reduce fruit loss and costs to the farmer. A special focus of this project was collecting maximum residue levels in the mistigation system.