Research Associate (Water Quality)

The Ohio State University
Wooster, OH, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
0-2 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Summary of Duties

Plan and provide educational programs and applied on-farm demonstrations on relevant local water quality issues that consider the agronomic productivity of the farm and mitigate environmental impacts of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrient plus soil erosion that affect water quality at the edge of field.

This position is headquartered at the Wood County Extension Office in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) counties of western Ohio. The person hired will have responsibility for a particular geographic group of counties with an expectation of working outside of that area on topics germane to their professional specialty.

Work in cooperation with Extension educator(s) to assist in planning and implementation of proactive educational programs using innovative educational methods, both internally and externally, utilizing local and university sources. Evaluate programs to improve future design and educational outcomes.

Develop and manage a communication plan that utilizes traditional and social media to promote use of appropriate nutrient management technologies and BMPs and showcase current research knowledge. Maintain a high level of visibility and facilitate communications with a wide range of clientele including; urban audiences, traditional and nontraditional learners, elected officials, agricultural and nonagricultural stakeholders, and environmental and special interest groups to promote the understanding of agriculture and natural resource issues. Develop an Extension program focus that specializes in one aspect of water quality (i.e., Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Organic Nutrient Utilization, or Soil Health).

Provide one-on-one consultation to farmers, consultants, seed and fertilizer dealers, agency professionals, and environmental professionals on the use of modern nutrient management practices including precision agriculture, modern N and P fertilizer placement options and equipment, and cover crops.

Work directly with individual farmers on evaluating and adopting new practices and technologies appropriate to local growing conditions. Provide advice on implementation of practices such as cover crops, drainage water management, buffer strip and other nutrient trap practices. Relate production conservation information on nutrient drawdown in high soil test fields, soil compaction, soil health, controlled traffic in production field, and tillage practices including no-till and strip-till. Assist in identification of low ROI production areas appropriate for conversion to conservation uses.

Work individually with farmers on identification of appropriate cost-effective BMPs for use. Refer to appropriate technical resources for design and cost share assistance.

Work with locally organized farmer-led watershed peer-learning groups where farmers can share experiences and develop projects related to the adoption of appropriate technologies for improving nutrient management practices based on the local situation. Where these groups do not exist look to develop.

Maintain working knowledge of equipment cost-share opportunities, of EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program); cooperatively owned equipment and retailer capabilities in their watersheds; referring clients to those opportunities and resources.

Demonstrate through cooperative on-farm visits and educational activities the ability of available agricultural technologies to improve crop production and reduce environmental impacts. These include but are not limited to, aerial imaging, active soil sensing, remote sensing, variable nutrient rates based on production zones, and yield monitoring to create production and profitability zones. Utilization of as applied nutrient verification to document nutrient rates and placement with yield maps to document crop outcomes.

Demonstrate benefits of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to farmers and assist with implementation of BMPs in low productivity areas of fields to improve water quality and profitability.

Collect farm production, economic and water quality data in association with installed BMPs to develop ROI information and case studies on conservation practices for production and water quality outcomes.

Assist farmers with making fertilizer recommendations utilizing tri-state nutrient recommendations. Generate cost return data for applying agronomic rates of manure in-season. Assist with understanding of manure nutrient value and how it can be used to meet nutrient needs and soil health goals.

Be able to utilize OSU developed tools (FARM, Plots, P index, Fertilizer Recommendation) and commercially available software in support of sharing research findings and educational activities.

Publish data and project outcomes in eFields and peer reviewed resources to make available BPM evidence more broadly available to farmers, practitioners, and technicians.

equired Qualifications

Master’s degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience; the successful candidate will have a strong written and oral communication skills; experience working with diverse clientele and organizations; demonstrated success in working as part of a team and initiating collaborative partnerships is sought; leadership ability and strong teaching and subject matter expertise in at least one area of agriculture is necessary with the ability to establish or support agribusiness opportunities; candidates must be willing to work flexible hours with a minimum of supervision.