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Agronomist Scharf receives MU Extension award


Eileen Yager
MU Extension Web Publishing Team
Phone: 573-882-0604

Published: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

Story source:

Barb Casady, 573-882-2003

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Peter Scharf of Columbia received the Vice Provost’s Award for Outstanding Achievement from University of Missouri Extension. Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of extension, made the presentation.

Scharf, MU agronomy professor, was honored for his development of color-sensing systems to predict and manage nitrogen inputs for crops such as corn, wheat and cotton. This new technology has saved producers on fertilizer costs, maintained yields and reduced environmental impact. Using sensors, producers can adjust the amount of nitrogen applied to the needs of the growing plant in the field.

Scharf’s approach is particularly useful in years of high and variable rainfall, which can deplete nitrogen in the soil, affecting plant growth and ultimately yield. A 2008 study showed a 44-bushel per acre of advantage in using the technology over traditional nitrogen application methods.

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service has recognized the environmental benefits since 2007. Because sensing technology can reduce excess nitrogen that could find its way into surface and groundwater, NRCS lists this as an eligible strategy in its Environmental Quality Incentives Program and provides farmers with financial support to manage corn acres with this technology.