News Release Distributed 07/28/14CROWLEY, La. – Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter agronomist, has been selected to become the next Louisiana rice extension specialist. He will start the new job in January with the retirement of the existing rice specialist, Johnny Saichuk.
“Dustin will maintain a research program at the station in addition to taking on the additional responsibility of the extension education program for the rice industry in Louisiana,” said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station.
Linscombe said a doctorate-level scientist will be hired to assist Harrell in ongoing agronomy research.
The verification program that Saichuk conducted across the state will continue, Linscombe said. Under the program, the rice specialist works with a few farmers each year on fields in south and north Louisiana rice-growing areas, monitoring the crop closely from planting until harvest.
Linscombe said Harrell is “probably the best pure soil scientist we have had in that position in many years.”
He said Harrell has solved some problems for growing rice that related to soil nutrients. In addition, Harrell’s work has improved the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer on rice crops.
“He’s done a lot of ground-breaking research to enhance productivity of both the first and second rice crops,” Linscombe said.
Harrell will soon start working alongside Saichuk to learn details of the new position. “I’m excited for the opportunity and the challenges that come with being the Louisiana state rice specialist,” Harrell said.
He acknowledged Saichuk’s contribution to the state’s rice industry.
“Through the years, I’ve really looked up to Dr. Saichuk, and he’s taught me a lot,” Harrell said. “I know I have very big shoes to fill.”
Saichuk said he’s satisfied that he’s retiring with the Harrell as the new rice specialist. “He’s got all the tools he needs to do a good job. He’s probably ahead of me when I started this job.”Bruce Schultz
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