Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Any crop grower knows that climate can make or break a season’s yield. Climate variability creates a lot of uncertainty in crop production, not to mention economic risks to producers. James Jones, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, develops computer models that seek to understand the interaction between climate crops, soil and management. “We use the models to help identify management practices that reduce those risks and optimize management for specific soils and anticipated climate conditions,” Jones says. In the longer term, Jones says global climate change could have major consequences for agricultural production. “Models that Jim and his colleagues have developed are widely used by researchers in more than 50 countries, and are recognized as the pioneering effort of their kind in cropping systems research,” says Wendy Graham, chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Jones and his team have developed models for soybean, peanuts, dry beans, tomatoes and cotton. “We use these same biophysical models to study how farming might need to change under new climate conditions,” Jones says. Jones also has developed a research program in West Africa that could potentially increase soil carbon content, and increase productivity on degraded soils in that part of the world.