Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference Leadership Award

The Great Plains Leadership Award is presented at the conference to recognize timely and innovative soil fertility related activities which have resulting in increased profitability for Great Plains agriculture. Nominees for this award are solicited from both private and public sector leaders in their field. 

2020 GPSFC Leadership Award Winner

Rick Engel grew up in Pennsylvania, obtained his B.S from University of Maine, MS from NDSU and Ph.D. from University of Minnesota, with both grad degrees in Soil Science.
He worked at the southern ag research center near Billings MT from 1983 to 1995 and since then has been in the Land Resources and Env Sciences Dept in Bozeman where he is a full professor of nutrient management. I think his start at a research center is part of the reason why he is so good at on farm research and is dedicated to identifying projects that will benefit the farmer. I frequently hear from producers how they have changed their management practices based on Rick’s research results.
Rick has been PI or co PI on 102 successful grant proposals, was the lead on the majority, totaling over $7 million. He has authored or co-authored over 40 Extension documents and popular press articles, 50 journal articles and 90 proceedings papers or abstracts.  In 2010, he was the senior author on the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management’s Outstanding Paper for the entire year.
Rick Engel Receives Leadership Award
Alan Schlegel presents Rick Engle with the GPSFC Leadership Award.
He’s worked on nutrient management projects on dryland and irrigated fields, organic and conventional systems, and micronutrients and macronutrients. I wanted to highlight a few of his bigger accomplishments today.
Until about 1995, the cause of “Physiological Leaf Spot” in cereals was unknown, though some thought it looked like disease. Rick ended up convincingly determining that Cl deficiency was the cause of the leaf spot which has helped producers correct the problem, and researchers identify tolerant varieties.
Until about 2005, it was generally thought that urea did not volatilize if applied from late fall to early spring in northern Great Plains. I even wrote that in Extension documents; but Rick thought that should be tested, identified the gold standard of measuring volatilization, ran 23 trials finding volatilization losses averaged about 16% and could be as high as 44%. He has published multiple journal articles and Extension documents on the topic. A survey of producers determined that his findings saved them approximately $5 million PER year.
He has also studied nitrous oxide emissions, finding losses were much smaller in the NGP than previously assumed. Since 2015 he has been studying soil acidification to help producers prevent and mitigate this emerging problem that is leading to complete yield loss on some fields.
Not sure it’s a goal of Rick’s but if you think back to some of his biggest accomplishments, they were to prove previous theories wrong. 
As MSU’s Extension Soil Fertility Specialist, I would not be able to do my job nearly as well if it weren’t for the wealth of research results that Rick shares freely with me.
Rick has also given over 100 talks to producers and taught our department graduate seminar 7 times. His graduate students have received numerous awards in part due to his mentoring.
12 review panels. Associate editor of SSSAJ and CJSS. Reviewer for 19 different journals and 2 book chapters. Served on the GPSFC planning committee since 2014.
And for those who don’t know Rick, he is passionate about fly fishing, cross country skiing, and travel. Even though he retires this August (or as he puts it: graduates), he is leading MSU’s charge to design a modern Soil and Plant processing facility. This will not help him at all, which demonstrates Rick’s unselfishness. He is truly deserving of this Leadership Award.

Previous GPSFC Leadership Award Winners

Year Name Affiliation
1988 Dr. Paul Fixen, Ron Gelderman, and Jim Gerwing South Dakota State University
1990 Dr. Don Sander University of Nebraska
1992 Dr. Jay Goos North Dakota State University
1994 Drs. John Havlin, Hans Kok, and Mr. Kevin Dhuyvetter Kansas State University
1996 John Harapiak Western Cooperative Fertilizers Limited
1998 Dr. Ray Lamond Kansas State University
2000 Dr. Loraine Bailey Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
2002 Dr. Larry Murphy Fluid Fertilizer Foundation
2004 Dr. Ardell Halvorson USDA-ARS
2006 Dr. Dwayne Westfall Colorado State University
2008 Dr. Dale Leikam Fluid Fertilizer Foundation
2010 Dr. Gary Hergert University of Nebraska
2012 Dr. Alan Schlegel Kansas State University
2014 Dr. Bill Raun Oklahoma State University
2016 Dr. Clain Jones Montana State University 
2018 Dr. Mike Stewart International Plant Nutrition Institute 
2020 Dr. Richard Engel Montana State University