Matt Ruark


Matt Ruark – Associate Professor

Soil fertility and nutrient management.

UW-Madison, Department of Soil Science
1525 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1299, USA
Office: 158 Soil Science

Phone: 608.263.2889
Fax: 608.265.2595

Extension Web site:
Ruark Lab Web site:

Program Affiliations

  • Department of Soil Science
  • Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies
  • Agroecology

Additional Roles:

  • Faculty Advisor, UW-Discovery Farms program
  • Faculty Advisor, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association
  • Executive Committee, Midwest Cover Crops Council
  • Associate Editor, Agronomy Journal
  • Project Director for Sustainable Dairy, a $10 million USDA-NIFA-ARFI funded research, teaching, and extension project (


  • B.S. Environmental Science, 1999, University of Minnesota
  • M.S. Soil Science, 2002, University of Minnesota
  • Ph.D. Agronomy, 2006, Purdue University
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, 2006-2008, University of California-Davis

Teaching and Research Overview

I run a fully integrated research and extension program. The priorities of my Nutrient Cycling and Agroecosystems Laboratory are to: (1) improve the understanding of carbon and nitrogen cycling in dairy production systems, (2) evaluate nitrogen fertilizer sources across different soil types and cropping systems to improve production and use efficiency while reducing impacts to surface and groundwater, (3) assess the role of soil physical and biological measurement for use in nutrient management planning, and (4) evaluate the benefits of cover crop for crop production and soil health.

Current research projects:

Dairy production

  • Greenhouse gas mitigation in dairy production systems
  • Climate change adaptation of dairy production systems

Cover crops

  • Nitrogen supply of legume and brassica cover crops
  • Use of cover crops with fall manure applications
  • Interseeding cover crops into corn, soybean, and wheat
  • Use of cover crops on sandy soil

Potato and Vegetables

  • Improving nitrogen use efficiency in potato, sweet corn, and snap bean production
  • Combining plant growth and nitrogen leaching models to improve in-season N management on sandy soil

Soil Health

  • Impacts of crop management on measures of soil health
  • Connecting soil health measures to crop productivity

Water Quality

  • Reducing nitrogen leaching on sandy soils
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorus losses from surface flow and tile drainage across Wisconsin production systems

Selected Publications

West, J.R., M.D. Ruark, A.J. Bussan, J.B. Colquhoun, and E.M. Silva. 2016. Nitrogen and weed management for organic sweet corn production on loamy sand. Agron. J. 108:758-769.

Collier, S.M., A.P. Dean, L.G. Oates, M.D. Ruark, and R.D. Jackson. 2016. Does plant biomass manipulation in static chambers affect nitrous oxide emissions from soils? J. Environ. Qual. 45:751-756.

Cates, A.M., M.D. Ruark, J.L. Hedtcke, and J.L. Posner. 2016. Long-term tillage, rotation and perennialization effects on particulate and aggregate soil organic matter. Soil and Tillage Research, 155:371-380. (

Bero, N.J., M.D. Ruark, and B. Lowery. 2016. Bromide and chloride tracer application to determine sufficiency of plot size and well depth placement to capture preferential flow and solute leaching. Geoderma 262:94-100. (

Wang, Y., M.D. Ruark, A.J. Gevens, D.T. Caine, A.L. Raster, N.J. Goeser, and A.J. Bussan. 2015. Processing snap bean variety responses to applied nitrogen and irrigation in the North Central United States. Agronomy Journal 107:1401-1410.

Minks, K.R., M.D. Ruark, B. Lowery, F.W. Madison, D. Frame, T.D. Stuntebeck, M.J. Komiskey, and G.J. Kraft. 2015. At-grade stabilization structure impact on surface water quality of an agricultural watershed. Journal of Environmental Management 153:50-59.

Madison, A.M., M.D. Ruark, T.D. Stuntebeck, M.J. Komiskey, L.W. Good, N. Drummy, and E.T. Cooley. 2014. Characterizing phosphorus dynamics in the tile-drained agricultural fields of eastern Wisconsin. Journal of Hydrology 519:892-901.

Ruark, M.D., K.A. Kelling, and L.W. Good.  2014.  Environmental concerns of phosphorus management in potato production.  American Journal of Potato Research 91:132-144.