SDSU adds new soil health researcher

South Dakota State University Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. — Sutie Xu, a soil health researcher, has joined the department of agronomy, horticulture and plant science at South Dakota State University as an assistant professor.

“Dr. Xu is extremely passionate about improving soil health and about the concept of regenerative agriculture,” said David Wright, agronomy, horticulture and plant science department head, in a news release. “The central South Dakota farmers’ legacy of adopting no till farming, which added significant carbon to the soil, will become even stronger under Dr. Xu’s vision and leadership.”

Xu’s research will focus on soil health under sustainable natural and agroecosystem management and precision farming. Her research will depend on interdisciplinary collaboration to understand the influences of anthropogenic, environmental and biotic factors on physical, chemical and biological processes in the soil.

In addition to her research, Xu will be teaching a graduate course on soil health management. She will also be involved in SDSU Extension and outreach activities at Dakota Lakes Field Station near Pierre, S.D., and other SDSU Extension events.

“I want to increase producer awareness of the importance of soil health management and motivate the adoption of sustainable management strategies such as cover cropping, diversified crop rotation, livestock integration and precision farming,” said Xu.

Xu received her bachelor of agriculture in plant science and technology in 2007 from Shandong Agricultural University in Ti’an, China. In 2011, she received her M.S. in ecology from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China. Then in 2014, she received her Ph.D. in soil and water science from the University of Florida.

After receiving her Ph.D., Xu spent two years at Michigan State University as a postdoctoral research associate. Following her time at Michigan State University, Xu spent another two years as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Tennessee before accepting her position at South Dakota State University.

In her former research positions, Xu has conducted a number of studies on soil health in a variety of ecosystems under various climate conditions. She has also analyzed several soil health management strategies including plant species conservation, rotational grazing, fertilizer, irrigation and tillage management, cover cropping and crop rotation in her previous roles.

“South Dakota’s agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state, while it is challenged by multiple issues such as the shortgrowing season and dry and cold winter,” said Xu in the release. “I hope to develop research projects to benefit agricultural profitability, the environment, and overall ecosystem services in South Dakota and the region through soil health management.”