Department of Crop Sciences

Program Areas

Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management (IPM) can be described as the intelligent selection and use of pest-control actions to promote favorable economic, ecological, and sociological consequences. Scientists involved in agricultural pest management programs try to optimize pest control by using multiple pest-control tactics. By maintaining pests below economic injury levels, scientists strive to provide protection against pest damage, ensure a competitive agriculture, and enhance environmental stewardship.
The primary objective of our biometry (statistical) research efforts is to help all biological researchers obtain valid answers to their research questions. The unavoidable variability inherent to biological and physical experimentation must be separated from known sources of variation in order to evaluate and interpret results. As an example, biometry is important in risk assessment and management approaches to integrating agronomic, sociological, and statistical aspects in determining the optimal rate of fertilizer usage.
The Department of Crop Sciences offers a concentration within the campus-wide M.S. program in Bioinformatics that focuses on the agricultural and life 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.
Environmental Sciences
The program in environmental sciences endeavors to understand the impact of agricultural practices on the environment and the impact of the environment on agriculture. The overall goal of the graduate option in environmental sciences is to improve agricultural profitability while decreasing adverse impacts on the environment, both local and global.
Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Cytogenetics

Plant Breeding, Genetics and Cytogenetics:

  • Is the science of applying genetic principles to improve plants for human use.
  • Impacts the life of every individual in the world on a daily basis.
  • Has been enormously successful in achieving improved yields, disease resistance, nutritional quality, industrial uses and landscape/horticultural aesthetics.
  • Faces future grand challenges due to projected increases in global population, increased consumption of protein as the standard of living increases, limits to production resources such as land, water, and climate change.
Plant Molecular Biology and Physiology
Faculty in plant molecular biology and physiology are exploring the genetic and molecular basis of important plant traits such as seed composition, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and mineral nutrition. In studying the cellular processes that control these traits, we seek to generate both basic scientific knowledge and new strategies for crop improvement.
Plant Pathology
Plant pathologists study plant pathogens and pests and how their interactions with plants and environments lead to disease susceptibility or resistance.  Pathogens causing diseases in plants include bacteria, fungi, nematodes, viruses, and other microbes that that adversely affect plant physiology. The knowledge produced by plant pathologist about the etiology of plant diseases leads to a better understanding of how to manage plant disease problems. As such, plant pathology is an integral part of sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural production systems.
Weed Science
Weed science is a very dynamic field of research integrating cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological management techniques to obtain economically and environmentally sustainable weed management systems.