Dryland Specialist Cody Creech Named to Fenster Professorship

Cody Creech at field day
Cody Creech speaks to farmers at a recent High Plains Ag Lab Field Day.

Dryland Specialist Cody Creech Named to Fenster Professorship

Cody Creech, extension dryland cropping systems specialist at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center at Scottsbluff, has been named the Fenster Professor of Dryland Agriculture.

The position is supported by the Charles R. and Eunice R. Fenster Professorship Fund. Charlie Fenster, who retired in 1982 and passed away in 2016, was a dryland cropping specialist at the Panhandle Center for several decades. The Fenster Professorship is intended to perpetuate scientific progress in dryland agriculture by supporting research and extension programs that enhance the profitability and sustainability of dryland agriculture in the Panhandle.

Fenster was an innovator in conservation farming in Nebraska. His work on farming methods such as conservation tillage and ecofallow is fundamental to the environmentally sound cultural practices used in dryland farming today.

Creech has served as the dryland cropping systems specialist at the Panhandle Center since 2015, with the academic rank of associate professor in the Agronomy and Horticulture Department. He received his Ph.D. in 2015 in agronomy/weed science from Nebraska; a master’s degree in plant science in 2012 from Utah State University; and a bachelor’s degree in business operations management in 2008 from Utah State.

He is the faculty supervisor in charge of research at UNL’s High Plains Agricultural Lab near Sidney. His research and extension efforts focus on enhancing agronomic practices to increase profitability, optimizing soil water conservation and delivering weed management solutions. His research has refined the seeding recommendations for winter wheat and evaluated the role wheat residue has in facilitating soil water conservation. 

Several years ago, he was appointed to oversee the Nebraska Variety Testing Program, which moved its base to the High Plains Ag Lab. Since then, the list of crops in the variety testing program has expanded from just winter wheat to add include wheat, corn, soybean, grain sorghum and others.

In 2019, Creech received the Early Career Award from the Crop Science Society of America for outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research. He is an active member of CSSA, the American Society of Agronomy, and national and regional weed science societies. He has served as an associate editor for the Agronomy Journal. He is also a Robert B. Daugherty Institute Global Water for Food Faculty Fellow.

Fenster's research at HPAL on dryland farming practices has had a widespread and lasting impact on wheat yields, soil and water conservation, and profitability. It has helped transform the way dryland farmers raise crops in the High Plains, from the original wheat-black fallow rotation — which was associated with dust storms and severe wind erosion — into the more productive, sustainable conservation tillage systems used today. 

He was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement in 1983, and in 1991 was recognized as an honoree for the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement. In 2000, he was recognized as an honoree for the Nebraska Agribusiness Club Public's Service to Agriculture Award. He was the 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award. Fenster's contributions received permanent formal recognition in August 2015 during the annual High Plains Ag Lab Field Day, when a new building completed in 2014 was named for him.

In 2005, the Fensters endowed the Charles R. and Eunice R. Fenster Professorship Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. This is the first established professorship for faculty in UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty who are at an off-campus location. Creech is the second Fenster professor. His predecessor at the Panhandle Center, Drew Lyon, became the first to hold the position in 2008.

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