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Department of Agronomy

Crops Research Areas


Research Faculty

John Holman|Nathan Nelson|P.V. Vara Prasad|Charles Rice|Kraig Roozeboom | Ignacio Ciampitti | Doo-Hong Min | Augustine Obour

Bioenergy production has become a national priority. Bioenergy crops are seen as a way to: (1) reduce the nation’s dependency on petroleum, and (2) address the issue of greenhouse gas production. The land resources and climate of Kansas are conducive to the production of many potential bioenergy crops – both traditional and cellulosic (biomass).

The challenge being met by the bioenergy research team in Agronomy is to discover the realistic potential of each possible bioenergy crop in Kansas, both in terms of alternative fuel production and producer profitability.

Research focuses on:
  • Productivity of specific bioenergy crops in different regions of Kansas
  • Energy content of bioenergy crops produced under Kansas conditions
  • Analysis of profitability of bioenergy crops
  • Determine the impacts of bioenergy feedstock production on soil and water quality.
  • Development of cropping systems that supply bioenergy feedstocks and protect soil and water quality.
  • Evaluate the bioenergy coproducts and their impact on crop productivity and soil chemical and physical properties.

Center for Sorghum Improvement

Breeding & Genetics

Ramasamy Perumal | Tesfaye Tesso | Geoffrey Morris

Plant Physiology/Crop Production

Dave Mengel | P.V. Vara Prasad | Kraig Roozeboom

Weed Science

Curtis Thompson

Plant Pathology & Entomology


Grain sorghum is one of the most important dryland crops in the Kansas and the Central Great Plains. It is economically important in areas wherever low and erratic rainfall and high temperature limit the production of other summer crops.

Sorghum offers farmers the ability to reduce costs on irrigation and other on-farm expenses. As the pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer increases and less irrigation is possible, sorghum is a crop which will become even more important to farmers in the Great Plains and to the High Plains cattle feeding industry.

The K-State Center for Sorghum Improvement was initiated to enhance this vital crop resource.

Goals of this initiative include:
  • Improve the agronomic characteristics, yield potential, food, and feed value of grain sorghum through plant breeding and genetic improvement.
  • Develop new uses for grain sorghum in food and non-food applications, emphasizing the grain’s desirable characteristics such as absence of gluten and low glycemic index, as well as suitability for use in biofuel production.
  • Develop environmentally and economically sustainable cultural practices that increase the profitable production of high quality grain sorghum with unique functional properties.

Crop Modeling

P.V. Vara Prasad|Stephen Welch

Crop modeling involves the application of computer science to agricultural situations. The goal is to develop new ways to predict the responses of plants or soils in agricultural ecosystems to changes in the macro or microenvironment.

Some of the models being used by the Crop Modeling team include …

The crop modeling research team in Agronomy focuses on:
  • Responses of plants to environmental changes
  • Effect of management practices on agricultural greenhouse gas production

Crop Physiology & Ecology

Rob Aiken | M.B. Kirkham| P.V. Vara Prasad | Kraig Roozeboom

Crops in Kansas are often exposed to many environmental during crop growing season leading to decreases biomass, grain yield and quality. Thus, crop production is always challenging to producers and researchers. The goal of the Crop Physiology and Ecology research program is to seek ways to help producers understand and overcome the risks associated with environmental stresses.

The main focus of our program is to conduct research that improves our understanding of how crop plants respond and adapt to changing environmental conditions. These conditions include abiotic factors such as water (drought), temperature (hot and cold temperatures), nutrient stress, biotic pest infestations as alterations in crop management strategies associated with genetic improvements and changes in cultural practices.

  • Understand crop responses to abiotic (drought, temperature, nutrient and climate change factors) and biotic (disease, pests and weeds) stress and quantify their impact on yield and quality.
  • Develop best management practices for efficient use of resources for maximizing crop yield and minimizing environmental risk.
  • Use and improve crop growth simulation models to identify yield gaps, evaluate crop management practices, and impact of environmental, nutrient and biotic stresses on crop production.
Research focuses on:
  • Drought and heat tolerance in sorghum
  • Heat tolerance in wheat
  • Abiotic stress management in soybean
  • Improve sorghum and millet productivity in the semi-arid regions
  • Develop sustainable crop, soil and water management practices in West Africa
  • Simulating impacts of climate change and climate variability
  • Plant water uptake and stomatal resistance
  • Heavy metal uptake by plants
  • Transpiration efficiency dynamics

Crop Production

Stewart Duncan | John Holman| Dave Mengel| Kraig Roozeboom| Alan Schlegel |Doug Shoup | James P. Shroyer | Daniel Sweeney | Ignacio Ciampitti | Lucas Haag | Gary Cramer | Eric Adee | Jane Lingenfelser | Augustine Obour

Crop production research lies at the heart of the mission of the Department of Agronomy at K-State. Faculty in the department conduct research on a wide range of crop production issues, at locations throughout the state. Crop production research ranges from variety testing to cropping systems; cover crops to tillage systems; and much more.

The primary areas of crop production research include:
  • Variety testing
  • Cropping systems and crop rotations
  • Tillage systems
  • Cover crops
  • Alternative crops

There are many specific projects within each of these research areas each year. The pages for each faculty member below go into detail on the current crop production projects in which each researcher is involved.