AMARILLO – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has hired Jourdan Bell to be the new agronomy specialist serving the High Plains region – and they didn’t have to look far to find her.
Bell, who will replace longtime agronomist Dr. Brent Bean, has spent much of the past 20 years working at the Conservation Production Research Laboratory near Bushland, first as a student technician with Texas A&M AgriLife Research under Bean, and then with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service.
A native of Amarillo, Bell offers strong agricultural roots in the Texas Panhandle, as well as excellent training and practical experience in agricultural research, said Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension agronomist and Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head in College Station.
“We are excited to have her join the AgriLife team, filling a vital position for the Texas High Plains,” Miller said.
Bell will officially start Jan. 1, after meeting the qualifications for her doctorate from Texas A&M University in December. She will be an assistant professor and have a joint appointment with both AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research.
“We believe Jourdan Bell is exceptionally well prepared to take on the role of research and Extension project leader in agronomy and soil and crop sciences at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo,” said Dr. John Sweeten, resident director at the Center.
“As a lifelong resident of the Texas Panhandle, my research interests have been driven by challenges faced by local producers; specifically, soil-plant-water relationships with regards to efficient use of irrigation, rainfall and stored soil water in both irrigated and dryland crops,” she said.
“I strongly believe that sustainable production systems must incorporate sound management practices to optimize crop quality and yield, in addition to managing diversified crop and livestock operations that are continually evolving as technologies improve.”
Bell said declining well capacities and pumping restrictions present difficult choices for producers in the region that can be addressed not only by improved irrigation water management, but also by crop variety choices and rotations to maximize water productivity.
“Crop variety trials will be a fundamental component of my research program, as they can provide indispensable data for area producers when new varieties become available,” she said. “In addition, I believe there is an increasing research need for weed management practices that can be incorporated into regional cropping systems and rotations due to the escalation of herbicide-resistant weeds.”
She said through her employment with USDA-ARS, she has experience in research-based projects in manure and nutrient management, irrigated and dryland cropping systems, tillage systems, forage systems and alternative biofuels. She also has extensive practical and specialized knowledge of irrigated and dryland cropping practices for grain sorghum, corn, forage sorghums, millet, sweet sorghum, sunflower and wheat.
“The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is a vital link providing relevant scientific research and recommendations to agricultural producers,” Bell said. “With both my educational and practical experience, I hope to make a strong contribution to AgriLife in developing an effective Extension program and targeting research that is highly relevant to producers.”
Bell earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Texas A&M University, in general agriculture and plant, soil and environmental science, respectively, and her doctoral degree in soil sciences at Texas A&M.