Annual Reports


A - Global Agronomy Section - Officers (A017)

2011 Annual Report

This was a very successful year for this new ASA section on Global Agronomy with various members of ASA indicating that this new approach was working well. This annual report is divided into various sections as follows:

Symposia and Section Meetings
There were a number of successful, well attended symposia held at the San Antonio meetings in October as follows:

  1. Sustainable Intensification and the Feed the Future Initiative: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward. Organized by Saharah Moon Chapotin from USAID. This created a lot of interest from different sections of ASA and the other 2 societies with many members attending with an interest in USAID funding of International Agriculture.
  2. This was followed on the next day by a Z-Series symposium on Feed the Future’s Global Research Agenda organized by Robert Bertram also from USAID. It complemented the earlier symposium with more details on the FTF research agenda. Once again well attended and with lots of good discussion.
  3. Challenges and Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture: Global Case Studies of Potato Production. Organized by  Zhongqi He and well attended with members interested in potato production and research. 16 papers were approved and presented for this session.
  4. Practice and Training in Field Diagnosis of Small Holder Agriculture: What Works?
    Organized by Raymond R. Weil, the leader of the Global Agronomy community of the same name. This was well attended by agronomists interested in simple field techniques.
  5. Two General Agronomy sessions were needed to accommodate the large number of submitted papers. Both were well attended with lively discussion. One observation for future was that some of the papers should have been added to the “Training in Field Diagnosis of Small Holder Agriculture” community session and some may have been better as posters.

Two poster sessions were held – A general Global Agronomy set of posters for the one community “Field Diagnosis of Small Holder Agriculture and a Global Agronomy Graduate Student Poster session. There were 13 posters in the community session and 8 in the graduate student program.

For the graduate student posters, three posters were selected and each student given a small money prize. The students were Philip Alderman, Holcer Chavez and Anne Cafer

Global agronomy had just one community this year; Field Diagnosis of Small Holder Agriculture. They held a good symposium with XXX papers presented as mentioned above. The future plans for this community include:

- Develop a list serve discussion group, and
- A possible "field guide" publication

The other community in this section, “Global Digital Soil Map” is still under consideration. There is a possibility that efforts will be merged with a similar Global Mapping Group in SSSA and the community of interest within Global Agronomy will not be maintained, although the final decision has not been made. Pedro Sanchez is the leader for this community.

New community
A new community is planned for 2012. Dr. Li Yuncong, from the University of Florida, is working on an application for a Chinese Agricultural research community.  They plan to have specific symposium topic every year.  Dr. Li Yuncong is also the president of the Association of Chinese Soil and Plant Scientists in North America that has over 200 members.  The community may attract more than 100 non-Chinese scientists who are doing research in China. This community is proposing a symposium on “Challenges and opportunities of agricultural research transformation in Brazil, China and India.” They plan to invite scientists who have extensive knowledge to talk about challenges and opportunities in these countries.  

Business Meeting
The section business meeting for Global Agronomy  was held during the San Antonio meetings with a good turnout, more than usual for International Agriculture in past years. The following is a brief summary of this meeting:

General Society Affairs

  • Dr.Newell Kitchen gave an overview of the financial status of the ASA, including the Reinvest ASA initiative that is intended to increase membership, facilitate the strategic plan, etc.
  • As part of Reinvest, each community of interest will receive $750 allocation for 2012 or 2013  and this support can be utilized within or outside the  annual meeting.
  • Each ASA section will receive $1000 annually in program enhancement funds.

Section Leadership

  • The two candidates for Vice Chair for Global Agronomy in 2013 are Sarah Beebout, a soil scientist at IRRI and Joel Ransom an agronomist at N Dakota State University.
  • Leadership of the existing “Field Diagnosis of Small Holder Agriculture” community will be carried forward for 2012; leader is Ray Weil and the co-leader is Generosa Nziguheba.

Annual Meeting

  • By general consensus, Global Agronomy will no longer accept volunteered papers.  The guiding principal for this decision is that apart from very focused GA sessions and symposia, contributions with an international dimension are better placed in other technical sessions rather than ‘lumped’ under a generic ‘global’ banner. This will serve to give prominence and focus to our symposia, while also ensuring that ‘global’ participants are not isolated from colleagues in the US who are working on similar issues
  • The Global Agronomy section will support a single high-profile symposium next year, with ideas for the same discussed as possible.
  • On the community of interest level, the two existing communities may organize a joint symposium next year.  Sanchez and Weil to discuss.
  • New communities of interest are in the process of forming (see the one listed above on Chinese agricultural research.

Items Requiring Board Attention:


The following suggestions were given to the Board Representative, Mark Powell to present to the ASA board:

  1. There needs to be better ways for GA and perhaps other ASA Sections to communicate, especially with respect to programming for the annual meetings. GA is unique in that their modis operandi is cross-cutting rather than the thematic/technical nature of the other Sections. There is support to continue the face-to-face meeting of Section and Community leaders at ASA HQ in Madison (like the one in May, 2011). It was felt that such a meeting should be much earlier in the year, and perhaps have a greater focus on communication and program planning (a GA Section leader living abroad may have to conference call into such a meeting)


  1. Related to (1) above, the transition from one Section leader to another (and perhaps also Community leaders) needs improvement. The 'vice' system is meant to do this, but in reality the nuts-and-bolts of how to accomplish this are lacking. Seems like there is simply a handover of responsibilities at the annual meetings without much guidance. Perhaps establishing a listserve would facilitate communications.


  1. Perhaps we can define 3 main functions of GA (1) programming technical papers submitted to GA into appropriate technical Sections, (2) sponsoring 1-2 Symposia at the annual meeting, (3) liaising with other Section leaders and ASA leadership to articulate ASA's overall global efforts. With respect to (3), there is need for this function and how to implement it needs to be further developed. Global issues such as climate change and feed the future are increasing in importance, which creates new challenges and opportunities for ASA to articulate its contributions to global agronomy.

Members of the Committee:

Peter Hobbs (Presiding Chair, Global Agronomy Section)
Andrew McDonald (Vice Chair, Global Agronomy Section)
J. Mark Powell (Board Rep., Global Agronomy Section)

Prepared By:

Hobbs, Peter R.