Ecology of Perennial Agricultural Systems

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

veterinary medicine
ecology, botany, plant pathology

This field-based program will provide students with practical tools to understand perennial-based agricultural systems in the Pacific Northwest by exploring the ecological relationships between perennial crops, ruminant livestock, and the land. Pacific Northwest agriculture is predominantly based on perennial plants—with livestock forages covering the largest acreage, and berry and tree fruit crops having the highest commercial value. Students will analyze the regional distribution and management of livestock forages, hops, nuts, berries, and tree fruits in relation to climate, topography, soils, and water availability. We will learn practical identification, morphology, physiology, and production of select species. The suitability of perennial forages as ruminant livestock feed will be learned in relation to ruminant nutrition, foraging behavior, and digestive physiology. We will also explore the potential and challenges of integrating diverse perennials and livestock in terms of nutrient cycling and management compatibility.

Classroom lectures, workshops, and guest speakers will be paired with weekly field trips to observe perennials and ruminants on working farms. There will be an overnight trip to the Willamette Valley, where we will study managed intensive grazing dairy operations; forage production; and hazelnut production. There will also be an overnight trip to eastern Washington to learn about hops, grapes, and fruit trees. Student learning will be assessed through classroom and field notebooks, weekly homework assignments, and in-class quizzes.

Program Details

Fields of Study

agriculture ecology

Preparatory For

agriculture, ecology, and natural resource management


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$300 for overnight field trips.