UNL Dryland Cropping Specialist Leaving Panhandle REC after 20 Years - UNL, July 19, 2012

UNL Dryland Cropping Specialist Leaving Panhandle REC after 20 Years - UNL, July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012

Drew Lyon, dryland cropping systems specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, has seen — and played a part in — some major changes in farming practices in the Great Plains in the last two decades.

Drew Lyon

Figure 1. Drew Lyon speaks at a recent High Plains Ag Lab field day near Sidney.

In late July Lyon will be leaving the PREC to take a position at Washington State University in Pullman as an endowed chair in small grains Extension.

A frequent contributor to CropWatch, Lyon had been at the PREC since May 1990. He first went to the Panhandle as a graduate student working on his masters and doctorate degrees. After graduating he worked at American Cyanamid for one year before returning to join the faculty in Scottsbluff.  Lyon is also the faculty supervisor for UNL’s High Plains Agricultural Laboratory north of Sidney, where research is conducted on crops, pasture, and livestock grazing. Lyon was the first recipient of the Fenster professorship, endowed by Charlie and Eunice Fenster for dryland studies in the Panhandle.

Lyon leaves some big shoes to fill, said a UNL official.

“Drew’s work at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center High Plains Ag Lab has been most exemplary and valuable to the growers in this region,” said Linda Boeckner, PREC director. “He has been a key member of our faculty as well as providing service to our communities through his work on the Gering School Board and the Farm And Ranch Museum Board. There is no doubt that we will miss the expertise that he has brought to this unit.”

Boeckner said replacing Lyon will be a top priority. “We are diligently working with our University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources administrators in Lincoln to be able to move forward on filling this key position as soon as possible.”

Over the years Lyon's research covered a range of topics, including dryland crop production; control of annual grasses in winter wheat using crop rotation and other cultural practices; Clearfield wheat systems; and no-till sunflower and proso millet production, which resulted in several federal labels for pesticides for these crops. In recent years Lyon has worked with Karla Jenkins, Extension beef specialist at the PREC, on integrated crop and livestock systems.

Through his extension work, Lyons developed key resources on the Web for the state's wheat producers, including the Wheat Book and Virtual Wheat Variety Tour websites. Both are now part of the CropWatch Wheat section, which he manages.  His initial Wheat Book became a model for the crop-specific sites developed within CropWatch. 

In his new position at Washington State, Lyon will focus on weed control in small grains. He also will work with some pulse crops, including peas, chickpeas and lentils. The position has been endowed by the Washington Grains Commission with $1.5 million. Seventy percent of his time will be devoted to extension work and 30% to research. He will be based in Johnson Hall on the campus at Pullman.

(For more on Lyon's contributions and his comments on how dryland production has changed in the Panhandle over the last two decades, see the full story on the UNL Panhandle website.)

David Ostdiek, Communications Associate
Panhandle Research and Extension Center