Department

The Department of Agronomy is mourning a treasured member of our faculty. Dr. Raymond Arritt has passed away after experiencing a stroke. Dr. Arritt was an integral part of our agricultural meteorology team for 25 years. He was a valued contributor to research, not only within our department but around the world. Dr. Arritt’s research focused on aspects of weather and climate that relate to the land surface and agriculture including crop cover and soil moisture, changes in rainfall extremes over the central U.S. and the long-distance dispersion of pollen.

An agronomy student will be one of three Iowa Staters honored during the Gold Star Hall Ceremony this afternoon in the Memorial Union. Robert Vance Rannells of Dunlap, Iowa, enrolled at Iowa State in 1936, studying agronomy. A month before receiving his degree, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He died in April 1945 when his B-29 bomber went down in the Pacific Ocean near Japan.

Rannells was born Dec. 9, 1918, to William and Adah Rannells. Growing up in Dunlap, Rannells worked the family farm like so many other Iowa farm boys. They raised cattle and harvested corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

He trained in radio operations in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and ranked in the top 10 percent of his class. Before leaving for active duty in the Pacific Theater, Rannells married his college sweetheart, Virginia Lynch, in March 1943.

November 5-9th is National Distance Learning Week, sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Assocation (USDLA). The Department of Agronomy recognizes the importance and value distance education provides to students across the globe. Distance education in Agronomy dates back to the 1990s with the widespread availability of the internet. Today, two distance programs are offered in the Department of Agronomy.

Masters in Agronomy

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, development of the MS in Agronomy began in 1995 and the program enrolled its first students in 1998. The program offers tremendous value and accessibility to students who work full time while attaining an advanced degree. That value has been leveraged by students in 44 states and six countries around the globe.

Our Agronomy family sent a few members to National FFA Convention during October 24th - October 28th. They put in lots of hard workout throughout the past few years, and we are so proud of their accomplishments! Check them out below!

Colin Stark:

Colin Stark is now a sophomore from Pontiac, IL. He was a member of the Pontiac FFA chapter. Colin recently just got back from National Convention where he received his American Degree. In order to receive the highest degree through the FFA, he had to meet multiple requirements. Those requirements included earning a certain amount of profit or working a certain amount of hours through his project, along with fulfilling a specific amount of community service hours. Colin’s favorite part of the trip was getting to experience convention again with his chapter for the last time.

Jensina Davis:

2019 Soil Health Conference Registration Is Open

Conference focus is on science and practices for advancing soil health

Mahdi Al-Kaisi

two hands holding soil.AMES, Iowa – The third Soil Health Conference will be held in Ames on Feb. 4-5, 2019. The event will consist of two full days of presentations on a wide variety of topics concerning soil health, with invited guest speakers from around the country.

On Tuesday, October 16th the Agronomy Learning Community spent their class time painting pumpkins for the local retirement home here in Ames, Northcrest. In fact, a few of our very own retired faculty live there now! The students were given a list of the residents and what they enjoyed, or what their hobbies were, and painted a pumpkin for each one of the residents.The pumpkins were delivered on Sunday, October 21st by the learning community. 

There are 46 residents in all, so 46 pumpkins were specially designed for each one. Some of the residents enjoyed things like fish, trumpets, the Chicago Cubs, embroidery, and pianos, along with various other hobbies and interests. The learning community has spent time together this semester doing various other activities as well, including things like movie nights, bowling and basketball. Once the holidays roll around, they will also be decorating cookies before winter break! 

Originally posted by the College of Engineering

A consortium of young Iowa State university researchers including our Dr. Marshall McDaniel has gone where few like them have gone before – as recipients of a large grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to mature and translate a platform technology with a global industry partner.

The group, including four Iowa State assistant professors and one associate professor, have launched a project to develop materials and methods for scalable manufacturing of  flexible resonant sensors and their wireless readers under support of a $750,000 award made available through the NSF Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program  The industrial partner on this award is DuPont with two co-PIs from their Advanced Electronics business.

The Iowa State University Department of Agronomy’s very own soil team placed second in group judging and second overall out of eight teams in the soils contest hosted by Kansas State University. The team consists of 11 members; Jacob Wright, Kelli Roush, Erik Fevold, Eric Bro, Hannah Weber, John Green, Tristan Dittmer, Jacob Schultz, Austin Day, Collin Stark, and Catherine Thom. The team is coached by Amber Anderson, and her two assistants are Danny Brummel and Josh McDanel.

Women in Agronomy is an organization within the Department of Agronomy that focuses on the wonderful women in this major. Women in Agronomy began over 15 years ago, but over the past five or six years, it has become more and more active! Stephanie Zumbach works hard to plan events for young agronomy women so that they know they have a place in agronomy and in agriculture. Connecting these ladies to other women who are also agronomy majors, both professionally and socially, as well as connecting them to other women in agriculture is one of the biggest take away from being involved with Women in Agronomy. 

The Master of Science in Agronomy distance education program kicked off its 20th anniversary by tailgating at the ISU vs Akron football game on Saturday, September 22. Faculty, staff, current students and alumni were invited to celebrate 20 years of success. Including the hard work and dedication of two specific faculty members.


Dr. Ken Moore
Arden Campbell award for dedicated service to the program as director for several years.


Allan Ciha
Student Impact award for his dedication to the students through advising and serving as major professor.

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