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Joel Ransom Retires after 18 years as NDSU Extension Agronomist

Posted: Apr 19 2021

For most North Dakota producers, Dr. Joel Ransom is a familiar name.  Dr. Ransom served as the NDSU Extension Agronomist for 18 years and retired earlier this year.  Through his numerous presentations at various producer meetings and field days, articles in the NDSU Crop and Pest Report and other publications and his work with variety selection tools, Dr. Ransom became a trustworthy knowledge source for small grain producers and others in the industry.  

While it was Dr. Ransom’s job to educate producers and research key agronomic challenges, he notes that he learned a great deal from his interactions with producers across the state and enjoyed sharing that new knowledge with others.  “Many times, the questions posed to me from producers didn’t always have an easy or obvious answer, but I enjoyed the challenge of finding the “best” solutions to new and complex problems,” he said.  “One of my favorite parts about working with North Dakota producers was helping to provide information that helped someone reduce losses and be more productive.  That was very satisfying,” Dr. Ransom added.

Prior to coming to NDSU, Dr. Ransom worked for 20 years at CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Mexico, Kenya and Nepal.  The environments he worked in overseas were much different from the work he took on in North Dakota and he admits that he had a steep learning curve when it came to agricultural machinery and common agronomic practices in the state.  However, he credits that experience during the first 20 years of his career with helping him develop sound research protocols that apply regardless of environment and level of development.  Years later, he was able to arrange international visits to include his graduate students to allow them to experience different farming practices and expand their understanding of global agriculture.

When asked what the biggest change in wheat production was over his career, Ransom cited the impressive wheat yield increases over the past two decades.  “Obviously, there have been many factors that contributed to this yield increase including the adaptation of no-till in some areas, the use of fungicide, better fertility management, changes in planting methods and more favorable weather.  Combining these practices with newer varieties has been synergistic for yield.”  Dr. Ransom cites improved variety selection data and tools as one of the most beneficial activities for producers, along with the popular Best of the Best in Wheat Research meetings, Dr. Ransom was instrumental in initiating the Best of the Best meetings that have reached thousands of producers around the state and worked to develop the programs each year.

The NDWC Board of Commissioners and staff thank Dr. Ransom for his work on wheat grower issues and research  for the past 18 years and wish him a happy retirement!

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