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Nutrient management is a large focus this year from the private and public sectors and a lot of the problems farmers face are buried in the soil.

Director of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Dr. Jerry Hatfield, conducts research in Ames at Iowa State University. On September 10, he was put into the ARS Science Hall of Fame, which recognizes researchers for outstanding, lifelong achievements in agricultural science and technology. Winners of the award need to demonstrate an impact from their research, Hatfield did that through studying soil. He has worked since 1975 on how agriculture, the environment, and weather intersect.

He says, “In an aspect that we’ve had in terms of production agriculture is looking at saying what can we do to improve the soil and improve water holding capacity so that we can capture as much rainfall and to store that rainfall, and give the crop access to the rainfall to be able to grow the crop.”

Hatfield says the primary attribute with high yielding crop systems is they are grown on highly productive soils, have excess water capacity, and supply nutrients throughout the whole growing season. He says, bringing those principles together through research lets producers reduce soil variation, improve production efficiency and profitably.