New Department for Crop Science and Soil Science
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, at NC State University, is merging two departments, Crop Science and Soil Science, effective July 1, 2016. The merger is part of a reorganization of the college to improve innovation and efficiency in teaching, research and extension. I am excited to serve as the department head of the combined departments of Crop Science and Soil Science, as I see great opportunities for the future. We plan to announce our new department name later this summer.
Our two departments have a proud and rich heritage, beginning in 1877, of serving agriculture in North Carolina. More recently, the Department of Soil Science has developed an outstanding environmental science program mainly focused in non-agricultural areas. Faculty from both departments are recognized for their leadership in innovation, technology transfer, excellence in educating and training students, and dedication to the NC agricultural community.
In many ways, the two departments already work well together- we collaborate on research and extension projects, we share the same undergraduate teaching degree program, and we share Williams Hall. We collaborate together on many research fronts including environmental studies (i.e. Dan River Coal Ash release), food production systems, climate change studies, bioenergy crops, and microbiology studies involving cover crops and row crops. Our faculty and staff do a great job of working together to advance the science of agronomy and environmental science.
The new department will be bigger allowing us to serve more students, pursue “new fields” in research, and provide timely science-based information through Extension to better serve the citizens of North Carolina and around the world. I see great opportunities in teaching, research, and extension coming from this merger. With the rapid urbanization of NC, the need to preserve farmland for food production, and the importance of protecting natural resources, the new department can provide leadership by leading teams of scientists to develop science-based solutions that protect the environment and serve agriculture in NC. We will pursue systems-level research to address global challenges (increase food production, food security, changes in climate, sustainability, etc.) through projects that study both soil and crops. The merged department will explore new frontiers in agriculture and environmental science like the “microbiome”, new technologies such as UAV’s and drones to collect spatial data on crops and soils, and water availability and quality for agriculture and society. We are excited about opportunities and possibilities resulting from the merger, and we look forward to all of you joining us as we change and become the premiere Crop science and Soil Science department in the country.
J. Jeffrey Mullahey,
Head, Crop Science and Soil Science
In the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty to accomplish great things. Our world-class undergraduate and graduate programs prepare students to answer environmental and agricultural challenges, building on our rich history of growing agricultural and environmental sciences in North Carolina and around the globe. But our focus is on the future.
We conduct research that drives innovation and new technology, expands understanding, and provides science-based information to solve problems, but we don’t stop there. We make sure our graduates, stakeholders and partners put their gained knowledge and innovation to work for a better tomorrow.
Graduate Student Spotlight
My name is Rachel Atwell and I am a graduate student in the Crop Science Department at North Carolina State University (NCSU). I work primarily in the organic grain cropping lab under the advisement of Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton. My research focuses on screening winter pea genotypes for use as grain, forage, and cover crops in the Southeast and using cover crop mulches for weed suppression in cotton production. I also work on a project under the advisement of Dr. Alan York evaluating Palmer amaranth control in cotton production with dicamba/glufosinate using the new XtendFlex® technology. I grew up in Geneseo, IL and I went to the University of Illinois for my undergraduate education. I received a M.S. degree from the Crop Science Department at NCSU. My M.S. research focused on cultural weed control tactics and fertility management in organic corn and canola production. I decided to come to the Crop Science department at NCSU for graduate school to gain experience with diverse cropping systems. I have been fortunate to work with many commodities during graduate school which has kept life very interesting! In the future I hope to continue to conduct field research and teach agricultural-based classes. In my spare time I love to run, go to the Farmers Market, watch Barefoot Contessa, and bake!
July 1, 2016 the merger of Crop Science and Soil Science into a single department becomes official, but our departments have collaborated on preeminent research studies for decades. More in-depth articles about individual studies to come, but even a quick non-inclusive overview is impressive in scope. In addition to studies in bioenergy sources as well as microbial research, our Crop-Soil collaborative studies are addressing some of the most pressing issues our world faces today:
- Protecting NC crops affected by the Dan River coal ash spill
- Protecting soil from potential contaminants
Climate Change Studies
- Developing high tech solutions to measure greenhouse gas emission
- Assessing organic farming’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Food Production Studies
- Determining most effective and cost efficient crop production resources
- Maximizing crop production while providing best environmental protection
As one Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, we will continue to find answers, create solutions and teach our students how to do the same in the future. We move forward as the largest department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; in fact one of the largest departments in the entire university. This is our opportunity to lead, and we are ready to meet the challenge.
“By understanding the chemistry of sediment I want to be able to create a conceptual and quantitative model that can be used as a guideline for if and when arsenic might pollute an aquifer.”
Student Perspectives – Elizabeth Gillispie: Mixing it up
NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm is a double-impact instructional tool: The six-acre site gives practical experience to students taking agroecology-related courses or volunteering as a service project. And the abundance of produce it provides the dining services system each year – 3,222 pounds in 2015 – reminds students across campus to think about where their food comes from and how it is produced.
“I think a lot of people right now are talking about feeding the world in 2050, but I want to remember that there are a lot of people who are hungry today and don’t have enough to eat. My name is Angel Cruz. I’m a Ph.D. student here at NC State in the Crop Science Department”