New WSU weed scientist to tap grower expertise

Matthew Weaver/Capital Press Drew Lyon, the new Washington State University Extension weed scientist, intends to tap into grower knowledge as he moves in from Nebraska beginning in September. Lyon was on the Pullman, Wash., campus June 25 to get an introduction to the area and look for housing.


Capital Press

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State University's new weed scientist hopes to make important new information readily available and understandable for growers.

Drew Lyon begins Sept. 1 as the new WSU Endowed Chair in Small Grains Extension and Research, focusing on weed science, on the Pullman campus.

The position has been vacant since November 2010. WSU weed ecologist Ian Burke has filled in since then.

Lyon hopes to convey weed control information several ways, from traditional meetings and field days to Internet and smart phone applications.

Originally from Illinois, Lyon is coming to WSU after 22 years at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.

There, Lyon worked with dryland cropping systems, with a primary focus on winter wheat. His focus was on intensifying and diversifying the wheat-fallow rotation.

"This still keeps a lot of the wheat aspects," he said of his new position. "It's a change and yet it's not a big change. I don't have to relearn everything."

Lyon was drawn by the new challenges and the endowment from the Washington Grain Commission.

"The endowment suggests there's a lot of grower support for the position. That's always something you want to have when you're in this kind of position," he said.

"When you look at farmers' input costs, herbicides and tillage, a lot of it's for weed control," said Hal Johnson, Washington Grain Commissioner, noting some weeds are starting to show some resistance, making it important to have someone who can convey information about correct herbicide use.

Johnson praised Lyon's willingness to explore new topics and his record of working with problems and writing publications that are easy for growers to understand.

Lyon expects to spend the initial months learning about his new region.

"In my previous job, I learned a great deal from growers," he said, noting he hopes farmers will call or visit him. "They're the ones who know what their issues are, what their problems are. There are a lot of smart guys out there doing work, and I'd like to tap into that."

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