Department

Daryl Herzmann grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa, and like most farmers, his days revolved around the weather.

"I was always frustrated by the forecast because we based our farming decisions on a two- or three-day forecast," the agronomy systems analyst said. "I decided I had to go to Iowa State and try to figure out how to fix this. That's where it dawned on me that it is not necessarily fixable, but it is a data problem."

The meteorology major began working with the Iowa Environmental Mesonet soon after graduation in 2001, providing better data to improve forecasts.

Riley Wilgenbusch, senior in agronomy and global resource systems, was named this semester's CALS Outstanding Senior. The award recognizes a senior who has shown exceptional effort in leadership, service, and academia.

"I'm truly humbled to receive this award. To be considered among such a talented group of individuals is such an honor. I know that this isn’t solely my work being recognized," said Riley. "The faculty and staff have so well supported me in the Agronomy and Global Resource Systems Departments, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences administration, and university administrators, plus countless other peers, friends, and family who all helped me achieve these goals, push myself to do the next right thing, and comfort me when things were particularly challenging."

A virtual soils contest took place on October 1-10, and students from our soils team participated in team and individual judging.

"There were 10 sets of cores (five for practice and five for the contest), and soil judgers were able to go over the practice and individual cores on their own. On a normal year, we would go to the location, maybe look at 12 practice pits, and have five contest pits (two for individuals and three for groups)," said Amber Anderson, assistant teaching professor and soils team coach.

Agronomy faculty and graduate students had the opportunity to sit down with World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Rattan Lal for an informal conversation about agronomy and soil science. Tuning in virtually from the Ohio State University, faculty and graduate students had the unique opportunity to engage in discussion with the world renowned scientist.

Dr. Rattan Lal, native of India and a citizen of the United States, received the 2020 World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.

A new federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) will support Iowa State scientists and collaborators as they develop improved seed corn tailored to the needs of the rapidly growing organic industry.

The lead investigator for the four-year, $1,996,500 grant is USDA Agricultural Research Service research geneticist Paul Scott, an affiliate professor of agronomy at Iowa State. Thomas Lübberstedt, the Frey Chair in Agronomy and Director of the Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding at Iowa State, will partner on the project, along with Martin Bohn from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Angela Linarez from the University of Puerto Rico.

Graduate student Mitch Baum has been awarded the Agronomy Department’s Research Excellence Award for his work in quantifying the optimum planting dates in his graduate research lab.

Hailing from Bondurant, Mitch Baum originally came to Iowa State University like many others—to major in engineering. But the call of agronomy proved to be powerful, and Baum quickly switched majors. going on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and now pursuing his doctorate.

The practicality of agronomy research is what draws Baum’s interests.

Our. Dr. Fernando Miguez has been awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. These grants focus on big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive technologies needed to keep U.S. agriculture on the leading edge of food and agricultural production. These grants are awarded through the USDA-NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT).
 
“Big data and artificial intelligence will increasingly play a vital role in the future of agricultural technologies,” said Parag Chitnis, acting director of USDA-NIFA. “As we work to realize precision nutrition for consumers and enhance farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability, these predictive technologies will keep research and development moving quickly to provide the tools needed for success.”
 

Did you know the sculpture in the Agronomy Courtyard was created by artist Beverly Pepper and is officially called "Janus Agri Altar?" Created in 1986, the bronze sculpture was commissioned by University Museums. 

From the artist
When Iowa State University asked me to do a work on the site of the Agricultural Building [now Agronomy Hall], they suggested that the sculpture reflect the agricultural business in some way. Using the iconography of farm tools, Janus Agri Altar evolved into what I consider to be a seminal piece.

A new federally funded project led by Iowa State University researchers will help farmers share data relevant to their operations with one another and improve production.

The Smart Integrated Farm Network for Rural Agricultural Communities (SIRAC) project recently received a three-year, nearly $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop technology that will allow farmers to pool data and share knowledge to guide responses to production obstacles such as weeds, disease and pests. The effort will start out as a small pilot project and gradually expand to hundreds of farmers. The multidisciplinary research team will pair innovative data gathering methods with machine learning to make the information easily accessible to farmers in the program, said Asheesh Singh, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and principal investigator on the grant.

A new study from researchers at the University of Minnesota and our Dr. Matt Liebman finds that diversifying crop rotations can greatly reduce negative environmental and health impacts, while maintaining profitability for farmers.

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