Research Programs

4-H and Youth

Growing youth in crop, horticulture and soil science.

Air Quality, Water Quality, and Buffers

Protecting air and water quality is critical to sustaining ecosystem services for the state of North Carolina. Research and outreach in these areas, as well as riparian buffers, are an important component within the Soil Science Department.

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture

Crop and Soil Sciences faculty collaborate with faculty from many departments on Sustainable Agriculture research, extension and teaching projects. Our Sustainable Agriculture faculty focuses on meeting our current and future agricultural needs for food and fiber and protecting or enhancing the natural resources within societal expectations.

Commodity Production and Management

Crop production and management programs are central to the mission of the Crop and Soil Sciences department. Through these programs we develop and deliver new information to our growers on best the management practices to employ for the efficient production of high quality agricultural products at the lowest cost. Research, extension, and teaching programs in this area examine factors affecting crop growth, development, and productivity.

Forage and Grassland Agronomy

Forage plants and grazinglands play a key role in North Carolina’s agriculture. In addition to providing a source of feed for  livestock (dairy, beef, goats, horses, sheep),  forage plants provide additional ecosystem services to society (i.e. soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, increasing soil fertility, control of agricultural pests, habitat for wildlife) and have potential as an alternative source for the production of bioenergy.

Geographic Information Sciences

Application of geospatial and precision technologies is important to the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of agriculture as well as the protection of our natural resources.

Integrated Pest Management

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated pest management (IPM) is socially acceptable, environmentally responsible and economically practical crop protection. Traditionally a pest is defined as any organism that interferes with production of the crop. We generally think of pests as insects, diseases and weeds, but there are many other types including nematodes, arthropods other than insects, and vertebrates. We now also deal with pests in many non-crop situations, such as human health and comfort.

Molecular Environmental Soil Science

The Molecular Environmental Soil Science (MESS) research program seeks to understand the fundamental biological and chemical processes that control the speciation, transformation, bioavailability, fate, and transport of nutrients and contaminants in the environment.

Nutrient Management

The relationship between agricultural productivity and environmental protection are essential areas of the research and extension programs in the Department of Soil Science. Previous departmental efforts in this area have resulted in improved nutrient recommendations for crop production and protection of NC water resources.

Plant Breeding, Genetics and Molecular Biology

Our department has breeding, genetics, and plant molecular biology programs in corn, cotton, peanuts, small grains, turfgrass, soybeans and tobacco. Emphasis is placed on developing cultivars and germplasm lines with increased yield, pest resistance, improved nutritional and flavor quality, and tolerance to environmental stresses. The department has a strong commitment to germplasm enhancement and preservation. A number of research projects involve the collection, evaluation, and utilization of exotic and alien species germplasm.

Plant Physiology and Biochemistry

Crop, forage, and turfgrass physiology and biochemistry faculty investigate processes affecting crop growth and development; plant resistance to stresses such as heat, drought, pests and atmospheric pollutants; and the chemistry and biochemistry underlying those processes. Physiological processes being studied include nutrient assimilation, transport, partitioning, and utilization; plant water relations; secondary metabolism and its role in plant pest resistance and quality; plant growth regulation; seed germination; root and vegetative growth; and flowering and fruiting.

Precision Agriculture

Historically, crop and soil management practices have been made and applied at the field level. Management at the field level works well with small fields and large fields which have little spatial variability. Precision agriculture, also known as site-specific management, addresses spatial variability within a field and how to best manage that variability to maximize production and profitability while minimizing risk. Site-specific management may be applied to such decisions as variety selection, weed and pest management, nutrient management, and irrigation.

Septic Systems and Soil Properties

This program deals mainly with residential wastewaters and their disposal through on-site wastewater treatment systems (septic systems).

Soil Ecology

Soil ecology is the study of how soil organisms interact with other organisms and their environment – their influence on and response to numerous soil processes and properties form the basis for delivering essential ecosystem services.

Soil Physical Properties, Hydrology, and Erosion

Soil physical properties affect water flow and sediment transport across the landscape, control chemical and pollutant movement from surface and subsurface sources to groundwater, regulate natural temperature dynamics and gas exchange with the atmosphere, and determine soil productivity for plant growth.

Turfgrass Science

The turfgrass faculty serve the entire turfgrass industry by evaluating new and existing cultivars, production practices, fertility systems and pest management systems including weed, insect and disease management. Turfgrass production and management programs are constantly being created or updated and improved as a result of these research efforts. The faculty utilize this new information by teaching and training future and present turfgrass managers through courses along with lab exercises, seminars and professional meetings.

Waste Management

The Department has an active research and extension program dealing with the treatment and management of with agricultural, industrial, and by-product wastes.

Weed Science

The Weed Science faculty within the Crop and Soil Sciences Department are committed to a long-range plan of continual updating and refining of crop protection programs to meet the needs of N. C. citizens. The faculty will continue to conduct research on fundamental principles and new technologies in weed science; to integrate new knowledge into developing improved and sustainable weed management programs; to provide high quality weed science education and training for students, adult clientele groups and the public at large; to promote adoption of economically sustainable, environmentally sound weed management systems; and to promote professionalism in the discipline.

Wetland Soils

The wetland soils program studies hydric soils of jurisdictional wetlands as well as soils that have seasonally high water tables within 1 m of the surface.