soil

About the Department

Agronomy is focused on new and improved ways of agriculture. New methods of conservation. Improved soil health. New approaches to bioenergy. Improved water quality. Advanced genetic traits. The end goal is producing food, fuel and fiber in a more efficient and economical way for the benefit of people and the environment around the world.

We are applying science to advance crop production systems while protecting and improving air, soil and water quality.

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Massive networks of drains, pipes and tiles that enable food production on much of the world’s most productive cropland are due for expansion and replacement to meet the demands of agricultural intensification and climate change. How that infrastructure is updated will have enormous consequences on food production and the environment, according to a new study.

The hills were blackened. What was once a house, now a concrete slab.

Wildfires brought destruction to the lush hillside vineyards, rangelands and forests of Napa County, California, in the fall of 2017. Six months later, Jacob Wright, a junior in agronomy, found himself in the midst of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team dedicated to the recovery of the landscape.

“Often people just didn’t know where to start,” says Wright. “We would visit the property and point them in the right direction. We worked together with multiple agencies at both the state and federal level.”

Orginally posted by MaxYield Cooperative on From the Field. Photos by Greg Latza.

Crops Team

Our Iowa State Crops Team Recently traveled to Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky to compete at the NACTA Judging Conference. The team participated in the Crops contest which consisted of Plant and Seed Identification, lab practical, including knowledge of insects, equipment, herbicides, fertilizers, and more, a math practical, and an agronomic exam.

Team members are Andrew Blomme, Shannon Breja, Jenna Cowan, and Alyssa Swehla. Individuals who also competed were Ben Kolbe, Ted Hilgerson, and Hannah Holdsworth. Dr. Mindy DeVries is their coach.

Colloid-Mediated Transport of Hormones with Land-Applied Manure

Endocrine-disrupting hormones may enter the environment via land application of livestock manure. With respect to both livestock production and soils, Iowa is the prototype for agriculture in the Midwest. Our hypothesis is that the risk of hormone transport can be better understood by knowledge of the mechanisms of sorption, desorption, and transport of colloid-hormone complexes.

Determining soil water evaporation and subsurface evaporation zones

Evaporation from the soil largely determines water availability in terrestrial ecosystems and the partitioning of solar radiation between sensible and latent heat. It is key to hydrology and climate. The evaporation process is complex, involving movement and phase change of water, varying with depth and time. Following water inputs, evaporation occurs at the soil surface, controlled by atmospheric demand. As surface soil water is depleted, evaporation becomes soillimited and shifts below the surface; nonetheless it is generally viewed as a strictly surface process.

Siblings Kelli and Mitchell Roush are teaching assistants, or TAs, for Agronomy 182, our Introduction to Soil Science class. Kelli has been a TA for four semesters and Mitchell has been for two semesters.

Mitchell’s favorite part about TA-ing with his sister is that they are able to use different methods to help students learn and understand different concepts. They both have different teaching styles, which helps if a student doesn’t understand his way, then Kelli’s method may work better for that student.

John Hammerly graduated in 2007 with his degree in Agronomy. He is now currently located in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he is the Soil Data Quality Specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil and Plant Division.

With his position, he serves as the Soil Survey Representative to an assigned area and he assures the technical quality of soil survey data. Tyler also coordinates the development and presentation of soil interpretations with the National Soil Survey Center (NSSC) and other technical soil scientists. He provides training and technical assistance to soil survey offices in all phases of soil survey for his assigned area.

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