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USDA Agency Honors Soil Scientist / February 12, 2003 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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National news release


USDA Agency Honors Soil Scientist

By Jan Suszkiw
February 12, 2003

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 12—Soil scientist Peter J. A. Kleinman’s studies to develop manure management practices that better protect water quality have led to his being named as an “Early Career Scientist of 2002" by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

ARS will honor Kleinman and other award-winning scientists today a ceremony at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center here. Kleinman will receive a plaque and cash award from ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling. ARS “early career” awards recognize the achievements of scientists who have been with the agency for seven years or less, and earned their highest academic degree within the past 10 years.

Kleinman’s contributions at ARS’ Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa., include adding to the understanding of chemical and hydrological processes that affect on-farm losses of nitrogen and phosphorus, which, unchecked, can impair the aquatic health of nearby lakes, rivers, and other water bodies.

Kleinman also conducted research to assess the impact of common nutrient management practices, especially in Northeastern states, with the goal of refining them for greater effectiveness. At the same time, he has worked with farmers and state and federal agricultural agencies to translate the science behind his findings into cost-effective, on-farm nutrient management practices that safeguard water quality without sacrificing productivity.

In related work, Kleinman unearthed important information about the solubility of phosphorus in manure, particularly when spread onto crop fields as fertilizer. Many states base their on-farm, phosphorus management strategies on three risk factors: the amount, timing and method of manure application. But Kleinman believed phosphorus solubility–the nutrient’s ability to dissolve in water–should also be considered. So, he devised lab and field studies to ascertain its potential as an environmental risk factor based on animal type and diet.

He then teamed with scientists from Pennsylvania’s State Soil Testing Laboratory and Extension Service to make use of the information. From this, they were able to show that phosphorus solubility should indeed be accounted for, and later developed a simple, easy-to-use method of extracting phosphorus from manure to determine the potential for its loss in runoff.

Kleinman’s collaborations on phosphorus solubility, transfer, distribution, and management include not only producers and Extension agents, but also USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other researchers across the country.

He is the author or co-author of 30 papers and has been a speaker or poster presenter at 16 national and international conferences. He is a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and an associate editor of its Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. His professional activities also extend to other organizations, including the National Research Initiative, and the Southern Extension Research Activity-Information Exchange Group (SERA-17).

Kleinman attended Cornell University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1989 in biology and society, a master’s degree in 1995 in natural resource management and policy, and a Ph.D. in soil science in 1999. He joined the ARS lab in 1999.

Kleinman, his wife Kelly, and their daughter live in Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.

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Last Modified: 2/11/2003
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