Department

Climate change and soil erosion feed into one another in an environmental feedback loop that can have big consequences for Iowa land, but an Iowa State University agronomist is developing new models to illuminate these complex interactions.

Developing these new computer models of soil erosion and topography changes requires both innovative big-data technology as well as painstaking validation of soil measurements in the real world, said Bradley Miller, an ISU assistant professor of agronomy. Miller recently received support from the National Science Foundation to continue his research to develop updated soil maps of Iowa as well as erosion models capable of predicting how environmental conditions will influence Iowa’s soil in the future.

The C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding was established in 1981 to recognize outstanding academic and research accomplishments by plant breeding graduate students in the Department of Agronomy.

C. R. Weber was a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University who made outstanding contributions to plant breeding, particularly in soybeans. The award was established by his family and friends to reward graduate students with the same goal for excellence to which he aspired.

A cash award of $500 will be given to students in the Department of Agronomy with majors in plant breeding who meet the qualifications.

Friday, April 30th the Field Extension Education Farm was host to the state FFA soil judging contest. These teams have already competed at the district level, this is the "state championship" contest. Competition consists of four soil pit evaluations and one knowledge exam. 

Agronomy's crop team attended the national spring invitation crops contest in mid April hosted by Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas.  The event was held in place of the NACTA event which had been canceled.  The Iowa State team placed 2nd overall with Ben Kolbe placing 3rd as an individual overall and 1st as an individual in the math exam portion of the contest. 

Members of the team were Rachel Casey, Jenna Cowan, Ben Kolbe, and Alyssa Swehla.  Wyatt Bailey and Jacob Ewart participated as individuals. 

A gardener hoping for a crop of the juiciest summer tomatoes might tend to each and every plant in a plot. But a farmer working to feed the world?

Researchers believe that may be possible. They’re applying and integrating layers of technologies – including sensors, machine learning, artificial intelligence, high-throughput phenotyping platforms such as drones and small-scale rolling robots that can also fertilize, weed and cull single plants in a field – with the ultimate goal of replacing farmers’ reliance on heavy machinery and broadcast spraying in operations of all sizes.

Drainage water recycling (DWR) is a drainage management system designed to capture water during wet periods so it can be used later when growing crops are thirsty.

Versions of DWR have been around for years, but adoption has remained limited. Now, interest is growing as the practice is recognized for its potential to improve water quality and help farmers reduce risks from weather volatility.  

Research underway by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center (INRC) and the Iowa Soybean Association is analyzing drainage water recycling’s costs and benefits, with funding from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the INRC and the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.  

This senior spotlight is highlighting Majorie Hanneman, who is a senior double majoring in Agronomy and Genetics. One of her greatest accomplishments while at Iowa State was being inducted into the Cardinal Key Honor Society as a junior. This is one of the greatest honors possible to students at ISU. As a sophomore, she placed 2nd place in the R.F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium Poster Competition, where she displayed her work with transposable elements in maize. Another honorable accomplishment was when she was selected for an NSF/USDA Research Experience for an Undergraduate internship at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University.  She was also selected as a Golden Opportunity Scholar by the Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America in 2019.

Dewayne L. Goldmon (’91 PhD agronomy)
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Photo of Dewayne Goldmon

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