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Originally published February 17, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Page modified February 17, 2011 at 4:23 PM

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Congratulations to researcher who won world's premier agriculture research award

Congratulations to James Cook, the retired Washington State University professor named a recipient of the 2011 Wolf Prize in agriculture, the world's most prestigious award for agricultural research.

THIS week's announcement that Bothell's own James Cook is a recipient of the world's most prestigious award in agriculture research is testament that Washington's cutting-edge research goes well beyond medical advances and silicon chips.

The retired Washington State University professor received the 2011 Wolf Prize in agriculture for two discoveries that challenged long-term conventions of wheat-growing practices by, in a way, cracking Mother Nature's code. The Wolf Foundation prize committee called him a true pioneer in plant pathology who is leading "the field of biological control of plant diseases."

One discovery found that disease could be better controlled in wheat crops by replanting wheat in the same field year after year, rather than rotating crops. The other found that farmers could harvest healthy crops even if they didn't till fields every year — boons not only to their bottom lines but in soil and water savings.

Of these approaches, Cook told Seattle Times reporter Katherine Long, "Mother Nature holds her secrets so tightly, and how to unravel them is the fun part — and also the challenge for scientists."

Cook's amusement and hard work help farmers around the world reap rewards of healthy, high-yielding crops with less environmental impact.

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