PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State University's new organic farm will incorporate new technology to reduce its energy footprint and new programs to increase its diversity.

Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, described some of the innovations during the April 20 announcement of a $5 million gift to the farm from WSU alumni Chuck and Louanna Eggert.

Solar panels, windmills and water collectors will demonstrate how elements can work together in sustainable agriculture, he said.

The master plan for the 30-acre farm in Pullman incorporates sensor technology to monitor water use and nutrient efficiency, an anaerobic digester and wind turbines for energy production and an aquaponic greenhouse that uses passive solar energy in a year-round closed-loop system to grow fish and food together.

Further diversifying the farm will be tree fruit, livestock, pasture, dryland grains and a wetland area.

"The real winners of this are the students," said John Reganold, professor of soil science and agroecology. A student residence will allow two to four of them to live on the farm and manage it.

A community center will house classroom and conference space, a teaching commercial kitchen, an organic agriculture library and a pickup site for the farm's community-supported agriculture program. A children's garden will be open to field trips.

As much attention as the existing program has received, the new farm will be even more of a showpiece, Reganold said. "I foresee it growing from 3,000 visitors a year to 10,000."

-- Steve Brown

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