Iowa State Crop Production Extension Moving to an Integrated Approach

Sotirios Archontoulis

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has created a new team and direction to advise farmers on corn and soybean production.

“We’re moving from the more traditional model of dedicated corn or soybean specialists to a new team of integrated cropping systems specialists who will focus on how corn and soybean production interacts with soil, weather, cover crops, crop rotation and management practices and support farmers’ use of data-driven technologies in precision agriculture,” said John Lawrence, director of agriculture and natural resources extension and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“We also are more closely integrating research, extension and teaching in these positions,” Lawrence said.

Helping to move along this change was a recent initiative by Iowa State President Steven Leath to help colleges and other units hire “high impact” faculty positions. A new integrated cropping system position with an emphasis on precision agriculture was part of that initiative and will be part of the new extension team in the Department of Agronomy.

Sotirios Archontoulis (pronounced:  So-tee-ree-os Ark-on-tool-is), who joined Iowa State in 2012 as a postdoctoral research associate in agronomy, began July 1 as an assistant professor responsible for leading the team. Archontoulis, a native of Greece, earned master’s and doctorate degrees in 2006 and 2011 from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Thessaly in Greece in 2004. His research interests include cropping systems modeling, agronomy, crop physiology and bioenergy.

“Dr. Archontoulis is an excellent addition to our faculty and will be a tremendous resource for Iowa agriculture. His strong background in cropping systems and cropping systems modeling will lead to asking better research questions, decision support tools for agriculture and enhanced extension education programs,” said Kendall Lamkey, chair of the agronomy department.

Another member of extension’s integrated cropping systems team is Mark Licht, who has served as the extension field agronomist for central Iowa since 2011. Licht moved to campus as part of new team. He is an Iowa State agronomy alumnus who joined agronomy extension in 2006.

Both of the new positions will integrate research and extension and will be involved in teaching the next generation of agronomists, Lawrence said.

To fill the field agronomist position held by Licht, Mark Johnson, the extension field agronomist for north central Iowa, moved to the central region. Angie Rieck-Hinz, former coordinator for the Manure Applicator Certification Program, was recently appointed field agronomist for north central Iowa.

Roger Elmore, professor of agronomy and extension’s campus specialist for corn production since 2005, left Iowa State last January to take a faculty position at the University of Nebraska.

Mark Licht