Photo caption: Charlie White, PSU
It is a pleasure to introduce myself as the new Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Extension Specialist on the Agronomy Extension Team. I am humbled to take over leadership of this important topic area from my predecessor, professor emeritus Doug Beegle, who built a world class program that many of you participated in. I look forward to maintaining many of the programs that were developed over those years and working with you to explore new areas of interest and need.
Although this position will be a new one for me at Penn State, I have been working here since 2009, first as an Extension associate and for the past two years as a research associate. Over this time, I had the great fortune to work with many farmers, agronomists, and agency personnel to test and develop recommendations for cover cropping, soil health testing, and nitrogen management. As a research associate, I also developed computer models to simulate the effect of different crop management practices on yields and nutrient availability. As both the technological capacity and environmental sustainability of our crop production enterprises continue to increase, I hope that my skills can make a strong contribution to the success of Pennsylvania agriculture.
In the coming year, I plan to share results and updates from a number of new projects. I am working with on-farm collaborators and at the Rock Springs research station to test variable rate nitrogen prescriptions that credit nitrogen availability from cover crops and soil organic matter. With colleagues on the Agronomy Extension Team, we have also developed and field-tested an online calculator to aid the management of cover crop mixtures to prevent nitrate leaching over the winter while supplying nitrogen to the following corn crop. There is a strong need to update soil test calibrations and fertility recommendations given today’s high-yielding crops, which is a project that I will work closely with the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Lab and other interested parties to develop and implement. As nutrient management regulations and oversight continue to evolve in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region, I will provide scientific input to policymakers, work with the Nutrient Management Program to develop planning tools and trainings, and keep the agriculture sector aware of the latest guidance and best management practices.
Over the next few months, I hope to see many of you at the Crops Conferences and Crops Days our team is hosting around the state. Please feel welcome to introduce yourself to me at these meetings and tell me what’s on your mind regarding soil fertility and nutrient management issues. If we don’t have a chance to meet in person, please feel free to contact me via phone or e-mail at any time. I look forward to working with all of you to keep our farms and environment healthy and productive.