When he was a college student, Bob Zemetra found the perfect career. “I liked working with plants, and I realized that in plant breeding — in theory — I could be outside in the good part of the year and inside in the bad part of the year.” Things didn’t turn out that way, he laughs. “I discovered with winter wheat, I’m planting in rain and snow, and I’m out taking data in rain.”
Plastic mulch — those shiny sheets spread across row upon row of veggies, strawberries and other crops — enables farmers to produce more types and greater quantities of food. It makes farming more profitable, preserves soil moisture, reduces weeds and saves on labor costs. But this type of mulch lasts for only a single growing season. After that, it gets dumped in landfills or is torched in the field — right here in the Willamette Valley and as far away as China.
As fishermen, scientists and coastal communities spar over Oregon’s system of marine reserves, OSU researchers and their partners are developing the science. One of their first testing grounds is Port Orford’s Redfish Rocks.
Every spring, the Umatilla people of northeastern Oregon join other Columbia River tribes in celebrating the return of the salmon. Growing up on the reservation in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton, Patrick Luke learned to appreciate the bond between fish and people. When he wasn’t helping to tend the family’s horses, he was fishing with his dad for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia and the Umatilla rivers.