This semester, the College will complete construction of a new
state-of-the-art research building. Many of the faculty, staff,
and students in our three plant science departments (Agronomy,
Plant Pathology, and Horticulture) will occupy a facility that
will greatly expand their opportunities to excel in a field of
agricultural research that is highly competitive and rapidly advancing.
I encourage you to read more about this new building elsewhere
in this issue.
I came to Kentucky in 1978, I have been associated with the College's
plant and soil sciences programs. I am very proud of these programs,
both their national stature and their history of contributions
to the commonwealth. The University of Kentucky has repeatedly
designated plant sciences as an area of excellence and opportunity
within the University. Most recently, a University-wide study
selected plant bioengineering as one of about a dozen "futures"
areas at UK. This means that the plant sciences will continue
to be recognized as an area of impact and scientific achievement,
worthy of investment over the next decade.
In the 20th century, UK's plant and soil sciences programs helped
to revolutionize crop agriculture in Kentucky. New plant varieties,
pest control technologies, better seed production methods, soil
conservation practices, and nutrient management strategies developed
at UK have had dramatic benefits for Kentucky crop producers,
doubling or tripling yields of some crops. Even more remarkably,
in many cases increase in crop yield has been coupled with significant
improvements in protection of soil and water resources.
It is very appropriate that this issue of the Ag Magazine would
also feature three College families who are leading crop producers
in Kentucky. Our connections with such farm families span the
full scope of the land grant mission: instruction, extension,
and research. The story of these families also reminds us that,
at a land grant institution, investments in discovery research
and new facilities must ultimately be justified by the potential
for real benefits to the people of Kentucky.
A key reason for the impact of plant science programs at UK and
other land grant institutions around the country is that we have
balanced and integrated discovery science, research and development,
technology transfer, and grass roots extension. This is not simply
a process of adapting discoveries to practical application. Continuous
communication with producers and practitioners should, and usually
does, direct and shape the research itself.
Land grant scientists must listen to families like the Whites,
the Clifts, and the McAtees to understand the context and relevance
of their research and then set research priorities appropriate
to Kentucky's needs and opportunities. We will continue to do
this in our new plant science building and on family farms around
- M. Scott Smith
Dean, College of Agriculture