David Wright, Ph.D.

Professor of Agronomy

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

2012 Awardee

David Wright’s research accomplishments include development of an integrated livestock/sod-based cropping system, management and control of Asian soybean rust, and management and etiology of hardlock of cotton.

Wright developed a sod-based cropping system that incorporates cattle and perennial grasses into row crop production in the Southeast. The positive impacts of this system on water conservation, pesticide reduction, soil and crop improvement, and economics have been so well received that the NWF Water Management District, Florida DEP, the U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Federal EPA and Coca-Cola, Inc. are now involved in the project.

In November 2004, soybean rust was first discovered by Wright and colleagues in Florida after a first report in the US in Louisiana. Working with a team of scientists, Wright helped establish a national sentinel plot system across the soybean producing states with USDA/APHIS funding and the soybean industry. The monitoring results from Florida are posted on a national web site (sbrusa.net).

Wright and colleagues accepted the role of making the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) the Center for Asian Soybean Rust Research in the US. Since 2005, over 700 researchers, consultants, and growers have visited the NFREC’s soybean rust research trials, including eight formal two-day training classes.

Hardlock of cotton bolls is a major problem confronting cotton growers in the humid areas of the Cotton Belt, causing as much as 50% loss of the crop in Florida, and other southern states. Wright, with colleagues, discovered the etiology of the disease, quantified its interactions with the environment, and developed management strategies with funds supplied by Cotton Inc. and the state of Florida. After finding that the pathogen entered the bolls during flowering, his team developed novel management resulting in a significant average cotton yield increase.