Friday, April 7, 2017 – Reynolds Alumni Center

2014 J.W. Burch State Specialist Extension Award

Peter Scharf

Peter Scharf's research emphasis is the discovery of new knowledge to help farmers to manage nitrogen fertilizer better. This is primarily done through on-farm experiments and demonstrations — more than 400 total, so far. His research has found that soils tests and yield patterns are poor predictors of where to put more nitrogen, and that crop color is a fairly reliable indicator of where to put more nitrogen. He also determined that nitrogen applied before planting corn is lost in a wet year, leading to nitrogen deficiency and yield loss.

“Peter has the most robust agronomic nitrogen management research and Extension program of any working agronomist/soil scientist in the United States," commented Deanna Osmond, professor and Department Extension leader, North Carolina State University. "When I have a question about nitrogen, I call Peter. In addition, Peter works with remote sensing to evaluate nitrogen losses and quantify nitrogen deficiencies. Understanding spatial patterns of nitrogen response over different years and growing seasons will be critical to developing better nitrogen application rates. Peter is a leader in this field.”


Dr. Scharf has been at the forefront and leadership in recognizing the impacts of climatic conditions on nitrogen availability to crops and the impact of excess wetness on nitrogen loss. His applied research program using active canopy sensors to monitor the nitrogen status of corn and variably apply nitrogen fertilizer has been a leading program in the Midwest and has provided producers in Missouri a viable option for managing nitrogen in today's modern corn production systems and variable climate.

—John Sawyer, professor and soil fertility specialist, Iowa State University


“Peter has helped us realize the full potential of side dressing and the increased profit potential on our farm," noted Mark Lehenbauer, Lehenbauer Farms, Hannibal, Mo. "This has led us to change row crop management practices. It has also increased the profitability of our row crop operation and helped us be better stewards of our land and resources.”