Dustin Harrell will be the next resident coordinator of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station on Feb. 1, replacing Don Groth, who is retiring at the end of January.
“Don Groth has had an exceptionally productive career with the LSU AgCenter,” said Mike Salassi, the AgCenter program leader for plant and animal sciences. “Over his career, his rice pathology research program has been highly productive, making a significant contribution to the economic viability of rice production in southwest Louisiana, in particular, and the state as a whole.”
Harrell will continue his agronomy research, but his work as rice extension specialist has been taken over by Ron Levy, who was the Louisiana Master Farmer Program coordinator and previously was the soybean extension specialist.
Groth started working at the Rice Research Station in 1983 as a plant pathologist.
He came to Louisiana from Iowa State University, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees. He is a native of Illinois and he obtained a bachelor’s degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University.
Harrell has worked as the station research coordinator, extension rice specialist and research agronomist since 2006.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture science at Texas A&M University in 1997 and taught agriculture classes in Troup, Texas, near Tyler.
He earned his master’s degree in soil science at Stephen F. Austin State University in 2001, and he obtained his doctorate degree at LSU in 2005 in agronomy as the first Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Jim Wang.
Then he worked for a year as a soil scientist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service near Corpus Christi, conducting soil surveys that included soil mapping at the King Ranch.
In 2006, Harrell became the agronomist at the Rice Research Station.
His first challenge was one that had stumped many experts. Named the “mystery malady” by some experts, the symptoms were yellowing and dying plants. Harrell identified zinc deficiency as the culprit.
Harrell also has conducted considerable research into products that are sold to prevent nitrogen fertilizers from breaking down before plants can absorb them. He also has studied ways to optimize second-crop yields.
Harrell, 44, and his wife, Kristy, have two girls and a boy.
“We are excited about Dustin Harrell becoming resident coordinator of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station,” Salassi said. “Dr. Harrell brings the research experience and leadership skills necessary to lead the outstanding faculty and staff at the Rice Station.”
Kurt Guidry, director of the LSU AgCenter Southwest Region, said Harrell will work well at running the station.
“I look forward to working with Dr. Harrell in this new role,” Guidry said, “and I feel certain that he will take those same qualities of dedication and work ethic that have made him a successful research and extension faculty member to his role as resident coordinator.”
Don Groth, left, stands with Dustin Harrell. Groth is retiring as resident coordinator of the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station at the end of January, turning over the reins to Harrell.