Kelly Nelson honored with J.W. Burch Extension Award at Celebration of Excellence

Nelson is an MU Extension agronomist.

Kelly Nelson portrait in dark suit and red tie

Kelly Nelson, MU Extension agronomist, has received CAFNR’s 2024 J.W. Burch State Specialist Agricultural Extension Award as part of the Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony April 16. Each year, the J.W. Burch Award is given to a state specialist who demonstrates exceptional extension program leadership within a given area of work. 

“Since Kelly joined the University of Missouri and the Greenley Research Center in 2000, he established himself as a very accomplished, productive, collaborative, and internationally recognized researcher and State Extension Specialist who, based on his profound body of work, has initiated new research fields in the Division with which he directly addresses important producer needs and concerns,” said nominator Heike Bücking, Director, Division of Plant Science & Technology. 

Kevin Bradley, MU state extension weed scientist, says Nelson tackled a problem not previously dealt with.  

“Unlike some of our ‘I-state’ neighbors, Missouri has a predominance of poorly drained ‘claypan soils,’ and we are also subject to frequent flooding events from either the Missouri or Mississippi rivers. Kelly identified these issues soon after his arrival and has spent his career answering research questions and developing extension programming about agricultural drainage water management.” 

Nelson’s novel strategies for effective water drainage management of these soils has increased corn and soybean yields by 40% and reduced nutrient losses in drainage water flow or gaseous nitrogen losses by up to 80%.