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Deborah Muenchrath Award winner: Alex Helms

Congratulations to Alex Helms, online Agronomy master’s student, for winning the 2022 Deborah Muenchrath Award for the most outstanding creative component.

Alex graduated from Purdue University in 2015. The flexibility of Agronomy’s online masters program made it easy for him to pursue his education while working full time. He is a farm technical coordinator for the Purdue University research farms.

“My experience in the program was great,” said Alex. “I enjoyed the perspectives from people all over the country through discussions and assignments.”

Alex looked at the effect of potassium fertilizer in a no-till corn and soybean rotation with very low potassium testing soil. He was particularly interested in the potassium fertilizer rate to optimize yield and economic return in potassium deficient soils. He was advised by top soil scientist, Dr. Antonio Mallarino.

“Dr. Mallarino is one of the most respected soil fertility scientists among Universities,” said Alex. “Listening to his perspective about the practical implications of his research and others has been really great for me.”

Soil fertility has always been interesting to Alex. Being able to answer a question applicable to his work will help him better advise others on proper fertilizer recommendations as well as his own farm. In addition, Alex sees value in optimizing fertilizer applications and the impact on the environment.

“It’s important to revisit potassium fertilizer recommendations occasionally to ensure they are sufficient for modern cultivars so that overapplications do not pose unnecessary risk to the environment and reduce profitability for the farmer,” said Alex.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Deborah Muenchrath, who served as a course developer, faculty member and dedicated student mentor. Deb is remembered for her incredible creativity, amazing intellect, abiding commitment to students, and triumphant spirit. ” Learn more about Dr. Muenchrath in her ISU Plaza of Heroines profile.

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