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Jerry Hatfield
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   Jerry L. Hatfield, Ph.D.

    Laboratory Director and Supervisory Plant Physiologist





Dr. Hatfield received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1975 in the area of Agricultural Climatology and Statistics a M.S. in Agronomy from the University of Kentucky in 1972, and B.S. from Kansas State University in Agronomy in 1971.  He served on the faculty of the University of California-Davis as a biometeorologist from 1975 through 1983 and then joined USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Lubbock, Texas, as the Research Leader of the Plant Stress and Water Conservation Research Unit from 1983 through 1989. He was appointed Laboratory Director of the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in 1989 (renamed the Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in October 2009).  

He served as the USDA-ARS representative to the Heinz Center project on the State of the Nation's Ecosystems, the Key Indicators Initiative, National Audubon Society project on Waterbirds on Working Lands, and Agricultural Air Quality Task Force for USDA, and is the lead author on the Agriculture section of the Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3 on "The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity". He was part of the IPCC process that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and currently serves on the IPCC special committee to evaluate the impact of extreme events on ecosystems. He served as a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, and Past-President of the American Society of Agronomy (2007). He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and a member of American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society. He has numerous awards from different organizations.


Research Interests

Dr. Hatfield's research emphasis is on the interactions among the components of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum and their linkage to air, water, and soil quality. His focus has been on the evaluation of farming systems and their response to water and nitrogen interactions across soils and the evaluation of remote sensing methods to quantify spatial variation within fields for application to risk management tools.   


Current Research Objectives

Quantification of the spatial and temporal variation in field and landscape scales relative to water use and crop growth and yield in response to nitrogen and tillage management across the Midwest.

Evaluation of risk management tools for corn and soybean production systems utilizing remote sensing and decision support tools.

Quantification of the micrometeorological processes controlling the emission and dispersion of particulates and gases from agricultural systems.


Research Accomplishments

Research Program Development: Development of the laboratory research program has been the assigned responsibility since 1989. This laboratory was dedicated in 1989 and the primary focus on the program has been to develop a research program that integrates biological, chemical, and physical interactions that occur within the soil as a result of management decisions to quantify their effect on crop production and environmental quality and to use this information to enhance both profitability and environmental quality of new systems. The National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment is regarded as one of the premier laboratories in soil management and environmental quality in the United States. The research programs are multidisciplinary and staff represents a wide range of expertise and the scale of research extends from the laboratory to watershed and regional scales. One of the products from the development of the research program has been the synthesis of various aspects of soil management into a series of edited volumes on soil management.

Evaluation of Farming Practices on Water Quality: The Management Systems Evaluation Areas (MSEA) and Agricultural Systems for Environmental Quality (ASEQ) programs have focused on the evaluation of current and new farming practices on water quality. These programs were developed to address the impact of farming systems on water quality and my responsibility was to provide the technical management for this multi-agency, multi-location, and multi-disciplinary program across the Midwest. These programs are regarded as one of the most successful research and education efforts in environmental quality and awarded the Secretary of Agriculture's Distinguished Service Award in 1997. These studies have shown the impact of current practices on surface and ground water quality and have assembled a database from the five MSEA projects for further use in developing and evaluating models.   The MSEA and ASEQ programs have generated over 700 reports during their existence. Watershed scale projects (Walnut Creek) were developed to assess the role of farming practices has lead to an understanding of the spatial and temporal variation across watersheds and watershed scale work has been extended to the South Fork of the Iowa River watershed in central Iowa to incorporate more information on the role of livestock production on environmental quality. These studies lead to a series of integrated papers on Walnut Creek and the initial evaluation of Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) at the field scale. Results of these efforts on farming systems are highlighted in book edited by R.F. Follett and J.L. Hatfield. Nitrogen in the Environment: Sources, Problems and Management and a recent book on decision making edited by J.L. Hatfield on The Farmer's Decision: Balancing Economic Successful Agriculture with Environmental Quality. These books are examples of the breadth of the research program in this area.

Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Interactions: Over the past 30 years there has been an emphasis on the development of a quantitative understanding of the interactions of soil water, nitrogen, light, and carbon dioxide across crop production fields. Several intensive research projects that measure the energy balance and crop growth and yield across multiple soils within a field and different management practices have been developed and have shown the role of soil management on crop production efficiency. These basic studies have provided the basis for a series of producer-scale studies across Iowa on tillage and nitrogen effects on corn-soybean production. These studies have formed the foundation for an expanded effort to develop decision tools for producers to use that will incorporate risk management decisions into field-scale management practices. This effort is in partnership with the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to develop more effective tools for crop damage assessment and improved risk management. Part of the products from this research area was the development of a summary of ARS contributions to remote sensing since 1970 that was published as a special issue of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing in June 2003. A recent book edited by J.L. Hatfield and J.M. Baker Micrometeorology in Agricultural Systems (2005) represents one of the first attempts to compile a monograph on soil-plant-atmosphere interactions.

Cropping-Livestock Systems Research: Research is directed toward understanding the impact of all components of the livestock-cropping system on environmental quality. This effort has focused on the development of a more quantitative understanding of the emission and dispersion of gases and particulates from and the value of manure in soil improvement. Cooperative efforts with producers are underway to determine the impact of nutrition on quality of manure and emission of different gases and particulates.These efforts are in cooperation with swine and dairy producers across the United States and have produced a number of studies that have used new technologies, e.g., lidar, to measure the three-dimensional dispersion of particulates and water vapor from production units. These data have provided new insights into the turbulent regime around buildings. The basic study of dispersion of gases has been extended to current studies on pollen dispersion from corn and the potential application of this new understanding of dispersion in turbulent regimes to particulate movement from agricultural systems.

Climate Impacts on Agriculture. Served as the Lead author for Agriculture section in the Climate Change Assessment Program (CCSP) Report SAP4.3 on The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resrouces, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States that was released in 2008. Served as Lead Author on the Agriculture section of the CCSP State of Knowledge Report on Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Personal research program is focused on interactions of plants and the atmosphere by focusing on the exchanges of carbon dioxide and water vapor and the linkage of these exchanges to water, light, and nitrogen-use efficiency. This provides a basis for the assessment of resilience of cropping systems to climate change.