Department of Crop Sciences

Crop Production


The crop production group investigates and compares commonly used and alternative crop production practices and systems and evaluates them with respect to crop yield, profit, environmental and ecological consequences, and agricultural sustainability within the central Corn Belt.

Crop production research benefits greatly from the strong institutional and departmental emphasis on basic research. Researchers cooperate with a number of scientists in related areas such as plant pathology, plant breeding, molecular biology, plant physiology, weed science, entomology, and biometry. This interaction provides an unusual opportunity to search for mechanisms of plant response to crop management practices. Students in crop production benefit greatly from the collaboration among disciplines.

Opportunities for Study

Programs in crop production lead to M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Course work and thesis research projects are individually designed to meet each student's interests. Most of the scientific effort involves field research, which is strongly backed by greenhouse and laboratory investigations.

Laboratory work is conducted at the main campus at Urbana, while field studies are carried out on the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center near the main campus and at five outlying research centers located in the different soil and climatic zones throughout the state. On-farm research in cooperation with Illinois producers is also actively encouraged and pursued.

Major crops under active investigation include corn, soybean, wheat, oat, alfalfa, and forage species. Current projects include crop growth and development, crop management techniques, integrated pest management, crop competition, cover crops, rotations, tillage, plant nutrition, cultivar evaluation, and agroecology.

Faculty in the crop production group have a wide range of experiences and interests in international agriculture, and a number of international students work toward advanced degrees. In these cases, education is characteristic of each student's chosen discipline but may also emphasize conditions or research approaches relevant to the cultural or physical realities of other countries.

Career Opportunities

Excellent demand exists for M.S. and Ph.D. graduates with education in crop production. Numerous and varied positions are available in industry, universities, government agencies, and international organizations at competitive salaries.