Developing Agronomic Strategies to Optimize Production of Quinoa and Hulless Barley on No-till Farms in the Palouse Region of Idaho and Washington

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $223,119.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kevin Murphy
Washington State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, quinoa


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, fertilizers, no-till, plant breeding and genetics, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: dryland farming

    Proposal abstract:

    In an effort to increase crop diversification, no-till farmers in the Palouse region of northern Idaho and eastern Washington have expressed a need for increased knowledge and awareness of appropriate agronomic practices for both quinoa and hulless barley. Each of these crops has the potential to add value to traditional no-till farming rotations in the Palouse through the marketing of their enhanced nutritional value and heart-healthy characteristics. Quinoa is recognized worldwide as an important gluten-free crop with high nutritional content and as a source of phytonutrients and fiber for human health. Quinoa is mostly imported from South America, has a high yield per acre, and is highly adaptable to adverse growing environments. Quinoa production in the Palouse will create a secure domestic supply of the seed crop for U.S. consumers. At present, little is known about neither the best management practices nor the best available varieties for quinoa and hulless barley. We propose to evaluate 15 varieties and/or breeding lines each of quinoa and hulless barley using three seeding rates appropriate to each crop species at three established no-till farms in the Palouse. Additionally, we will test two varieties of quinoa grown under four nitrogen rates to help determine optimal fertility management practices for each crop species. Each no-till farm will represent a distinct rainfall zone and/or soil type. We will measure both agronomic and quality/nutritional response variables. Agronomic traits of interest include speed and rate of emergence, juvenile growth habit, leaf and stem color, plant height at maturity, disease resistance, lodging tolerance, weed suppression, and seed yield. Enduse quality and nutritional traits of interest include seed protein content, seed size, test weight, β-glucan content (for barley only), saponin content (for quinoa only), total phenolics, and extrusion properties. Measurable outcomes include the identification and/or quantification of: 1) existing quinoa and hulless barley varieties with strong agronomic characteristics, high yields, and good end-use quality for immediate production; 2) quinoa and/or hulless barley lines that are adapted to no-till farming systems and would be potential candidates for variety release; and 3) nitrogen and seeding rates that optimize weed suppression, grain yield, nutritional value, and seed end-use quality. Information will be disseminated through various extension channels, including annual field days, an extension bulletin, an extension fact sheet, conference posters and oral presentations, one webinar, a continually updated project webpage, and two to three scholarly, peer-reviewed publications. No-till farmers in the Palouse, as well as representatives of Shepherd’s Grain (, a farmer cooperative comprised of no-till grain growers in the Palouse, have been intimately involved in the conception, design, and planning stages of this proposal and will be critical in the successful implementation and extension of this project. The Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program Outreach Survey will be handed out to stakeholders at each field day, workshop, seminar, and conference poster and oral presentation, as well as made available online to webinar participants, to help gauge the overall impact of this research and extension project.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Identify specific varieties and/or breeding lines of quinoa and hulless barley that perform well on no-till farms in the Palouse;




      1. Determine the effect of seeding rate of quinoa and hulless barley on agronomic traits and seed yield of quinoa and hulless barley;




      1. Determine the effect of nitrogen fertilizer rate on yield and quality of quinoa and hulless barley;




      1. Identify varieties of quinoa and hulless barley that possess superior nutritional compounds. Characterize and quantify nutritional components including β-glucan,amylose, phytates and tocols, mineral concentration (Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, P, Se, Zn), and total antioxidant activity;




      1. Identify varieties of quinoa and hulless barley that possess useful thermal and rheologicalproperties and processing and end-use quality characteristics;




      1. Increase knowledge among growers in northern Idaho and eastern Washington of the agronomic and market capacity of quinoa and hulless barley;




      1. Develop a comprehensive, extension based delivery of information and knowledge gained from this project including multimedia presentations and both producer based andacademic peer-reviewed publications.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.