What Harvard is to medicine and Yale is to law, Oregon State University is to agricultural sciences. That is, number one in the nation in research.
That’s a high honor, measured by the number of scientists around the world who draw on the work of OSU agricultural scientists. Thayne Dutson, dean of the college and director of Oregon’s Agricultural Experiment Station, credits a systematic change in the college that happened 20 years ago.
“We began to examine the economic, environmental, and social benefit of what we do,” Dutson said. “You’d think these three ideas would pull in opposite directions, but we’ve found that our most important work moves all three benefits forward in a positive direction.”
Agricultural research at OSU includes much more than what most people think of as agriculture. In this issue, for example, we learn how seafood delicacies from around the globe are created from a fish that no one wanted. We follow the work of economists as they take the measure of Oregon’s new land use regulations. We travel to southern Oregon to sip new wines with a chemistry all their own.
And we celebrate two of the most familiar aspects of Oregon agriculture. One hundred years ago, crops and animals were an integral part of every farm in Oregon. Following World War II, when chemical fertilizer replaced animal manure and petroleum replaced horse power, large-scale industrialization of agriculture made food abundant and affordable. However, industrialization also brought new challenges as concern arose over the treatment of food animals, the environment, and the resilience of rural communities. OSU agricultural scientists moved forward with research that enhanced economic, environmental, and social benefits for Oregon. Today, crop and animal agriculture are each worth over a billion dollars a year in Oregon, with increasing attention to the welfare of animals and the land.
That is Oregon’s progress, and it’s something to celebrate.