The land-grant mission in action

One of the great engineering and public policy achievements of the 20th century was the development of municipal systems for capturing domestic and industrial wastewater. Municipal systems treat wastewater to remove toxins and to degrade and eliminate organic wastes, and return it to streams and lakes clean enough to sustain aquatic organisms and to allow for safe contact by people whether in swimming, fishing or boating.

Historically, we avoided reusing wastewater, in part, because we were so accustomed to it being dangerous to use in any way. However, the improvements made in response to the Clean Water Act of 1972, and prior federal legislation on wastewater treatment, have created an opportunity for us to reevaluate ways in which we can reuse treated wastewater. And one of the prime opportunities for reusing treated wastewater is in irrigation of agronomic crops.

Last Friday (April 24), I had the pleasure of traveling to Chickasha for the OSU Grady County Wheat Field Day at the South Central Research Station. As part of the festivities, we broke ground on a new water reuse and irrigation system.

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This state-of-the-art irrigation system will use water recycled and repurposed from the City of Chickasha’s treated effluent currently discharged into the Washita River. With water being such a precious commodity in Oklahoma and across the nation, this is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate being good stewards of our land and natural resources while conducting research on a topic of increasing importance.

Once construction of the system is completed and the water reuse project gets underway, it will give our researchers a better understanding of how use of treated municipal effluent may affect soil quality, crop productivity and water quality of runoff from irrigated fields. It also will allow scientists to evaluate alternative approaches between two different irrigation systems: one will be linear and the other will be a center-pivot structure.

In addition, we are learning about issues that municipalities must consider if they receive requests for using treated effluent for irrigation and we can help city leaders and farm operators learn how to work together to achieve these efficiencies in reuse systems. Ultimately, we need to explore a number of pathways for enhancing agricultural production here and abroad using water resources we have previously considered unavailable or unusable.

Overall, this project is a great example of ongoing research across DASNR that has significant potential to have a far-reaching impact on the lives of Oklahomans as well as individuals and families across the world.

This is the land-grant mission in action at OSU and I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be a part of it all.

CASNR Week

I have a vivid memory of the first time I stepped into Agricultural Hall, about a year ago now. The first thing I noticed was the Student Success Center, and when I asked what goes on there, I was blown away by the answer. Ever since that initial impression, I’ve continued to be impressed and pleased by the way we fully support and celebrate our students as people and scholars.

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On more than one occasion I’ve specifically expressed just how proud I am of our CASNR students, who not only rank among the brightest OSU has to offer, but also represent some of the top talent in Oklahoma and the nation.

What makes their accomplishments especially impressive is that many of these students also excel in one or more of CASNR’s 60-plus clubs and competitive teams. These extracurricular activities add an important richness to their overall experience at OSU and help set them up for success after graduation.

This is CASNR Week (April 6-9), an annual recognition of the college’s students, faculty and staff as well as its clubs and competitive teams. In addition to a cookout, a dodge ball tournament (can faculty play?) and other fun activities, we’ll culminate the week with the CASNR Banquet. Each year at the banquet, we proudly award $460,000 in scholarships, which is only a portion of the overall $1.4 million CASNR annually awards to deserving students.

We have a lot to be proud of in CASNR and I’m excited about our future. I look forward to continuing our pursuit of excellence in the way we serve students and the way CASNR students contribute to the OSU community.