The Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science

Dr. Michael Castellano (Associate Professor, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA) will present The Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science entitled “Biogeochemical consequences of an aging soil infrastructure” on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm in 270 Soils Building.  A reception will follow in the Jackson-Tanner Commons.

Abstract: The greatest land improvement for agriculture is drainage. Recently, scientists have speculated that drainage – rather than tillage – caused the massive loss of soil organic matter from cropping of the Midwest U.S. prairie. Over 30 million acres of U.S. cropland are drained, representing an investment in excess of $20 billion. However, most Midwest U.S. drainage systems are approaching the end of their design life. Moreover, climate change and cropping systems intensification have led to an increase in drainage requirements for economical crop production. Deterioration and improvement of drainage networks have enormous impacts on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. As the U.S. upgrades aging drainage infrastructure, soil scientists must work to balance a series of biogeochemical trade-offs that impact soil carbon storage, crop production, and nitrogen use efficiency.

{Made available by the generosity of Leo M. Walsh and the Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science Fund}

Joel Pedersen Honored

Congratulations to Joel Pedersen on being selected as a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor.  The professorship title may be carried for the duration of his career at UW-Madison. The professorship provides flexible funds in the amount of $75,000 that can be used for books, research travel, supplies or similar expenses incurred in pursuit of Joel’s scholarly activity.  This is a great honor and confirms the high esteem in which Joel is held by his CALS colleagues.


Carrie Laboski was elected to the Soil Science Society of America Board of Directors representing the Agricultural Soil & Food Systems Group. This is a 3-year term beginning 9 January 2019 to 31 December 2021.


Stephen Ventura has been awarded the 2018 Spitzer Teaching Award. This award recognizes an individual who has significantly enhanced the quality and impact of undergraduate or graduate instruction in CALS through outstanding teaching practices, pedagogical scholarship or other beyond-the-classroom accomplishments that have shaped students’ learning experiences and/or the teaching practices of other instructors. Robert Spitzer, the sponsor of this award, is a three-time graduate of CALS who went on to become a leader in agribusiness and the president of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Bob created the award to honor the teachers who made a lasting impression on him.

Book Launch Video

“Good Food, Strong Communities,” edited by Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, recently held a book launch.  If you missed the event at the University Club on Thursday, January 18, you can still enjoy it through the wonders of video:  The book features numerous local authors, shares ideas and stories about efforts to improve food security in large urban areas of the United States by strengthening community food systems. It draws on 5 years of collaboration between a research team comprised of the University of Wisconsin, Growing Power, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and more than 30 organizations on the front lines of this work in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Madison, and Cedar Rapids. Activists and scholars talk about what’s working and what still needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to readily available, affordable, appropriate, and acceptable food.


The UW Soil & Forage Analysis Lab welcomes its new lab director and extension soils specialist, Andrew Stammer. Andrew is a certified crop advisor and has a strong background in soil and plant analysis. He looks forward to providing faculty and staff with high-quality analyses to help them meet their research objectives. You can reach Andrew at 715-387-2523 or

Well Done, Ekrem!

Congratulations to Ekrem Ozlu (Research Assistant with Francisco Arriaga) on being selected as a recipient of the 2018 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award (a highly competitive award).  Ekrem was selected from a pool of 50 exceptional graduate students because his application expressed an impressive enthusiasm for both research and advocacy.  Award recipients receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to participate in the 2018 Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on March 7-8.  While in DC, Ekrem will receive advocacy training before teaming up with society leadership for a face-to-face meeting with Wisconsin Congressional delegation. 

21st World Congress of Soil Science

The 21st World Congress of Soil Science (21WCSS) will take place in Rio de Janeiro, August 12 – 17, 2018. Dedicated to the theme “Soil Science: Beyond Food and Fuel,” it will review the key role of soil science in answering some of the topical key questions regarding future food and water security, environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Information on technical conference tours has been made available on the conference website.

Important dates:   Abstract submission until January 20, 2018; Abstract acceptance after March 15, 2018; Early registration ends March 31, 2018; Regular registration until May 12, 2018.  Read more at

The Driftless Reader

Curt Meine, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and Keefe Keeley, a PhD candidate with SteveVentura are co-editors of a recently-released book about the Driftless Area titled The Driftless Reader (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017).  Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, the book brings together more than 80 selected readings as well as numerous photographs, maps and paintings to tell the story of the Driftless region’s layered natural and human history. The book features writing by Mark Twain, Robin Kimmerer, Aldo Leopold, Frank Lloyd Wright, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Black Hawk and many more.

SnapPlus Nutrient Management Software in the News

A software program intended to cut water pollution and soil erosion has matured into an essential production tool for farmers, says Fond du Lac Co. dairy farmer Josh Hiemstra, who began using the program in 2005. The software is called SnapPlus (Soil Nutrient Application Planner) and was created at the UW-Madison Department of Soil Science.  The program helps farmers make the best use of their on-farm nutrients, as well as make informed and justified commercial fertilizer purchases.  By calculating potential soil and phosphorus runoff losses on a field-by-field basis while assisting in the economic planning of manure and fertilizer applications, SnapPlus provides Wisconsin farmers with a tool for protecting soil and water quality.  Check out the full article by UW News writer David Tennenbaum about the program, go to


Congratulations to Yichao Rui (Research Associate with Matt Ruark’s Lab). Yichao recently received the Best Presentation Award (1st place) at the 2nd Annual UW-Madison Postdoctoral Research Symposium that was held on Friday, September 22.  This symposium is a venue for postdocs to share their work with others and foster new collaborations.  New to this year’s symposium was the 5-minute blitz talk competition. Fifty abstracts were received for this competition; 16 of the abstracts were selected to be presented during the symposium.  As the 1st place winner, Yichao received a travel grant to attend a future conference of his choosing.