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University of Minnesota Extension
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Investing in food, agriculture and the environment

Melissa Wilson

Legislative AGREETT funds

Melissa Wilson is an Extension soil scientist hired in 2017 with AGREETT funding support. She’s also a social media ace who isn’t afraid of a good manure pun. (Follow @manureprof on Twitter) Wilson fills a manure management position that was vacant for more than a decade.

What is your focus in soil science?

I grew up in Lancaster, Penn. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but we walked through corn fields to get to school. It was dairy country. That’s where I learned the adage “manure smells like money.” I grew up boating and water skiing, so I’ve always been interested in preserving those environments. Combining my love of water and my fascination with the food chain, my research aim is to maximize crop productivity while maintaining water quality.

What’s so important about manure?

Manure is basically a multi-vitamin mixed with a probiotic for soils. It has all the nutrients needed for plant growth while providing organic matter and microbes to promote soil health. But, just like multi-vitamins, you don’t want to overdo it.

How was your first six months on the job?

My biggest priority has been to get out and meet people, trying to understand needs in Minnesota. The main challenges I’m hearing are about managing manure in such a short growing season. How can we open up the window of opportunity?

You’ve latched on to social media as a communication tool. Why?

In Extension, the whole point is to get our knowledge to the public so they can use it. Twitter posts and pictures grab imaginations and growers follow up with me. You can also have fun with social media. We used it to crowdsource slogan ideas for the Manure Expo in South Dakota. Some people came up with clever ways to talk about what we do in manure research. Others were pretty…crappy.

AGREETT Positions

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature approved the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer Program (AGREETT). Funding from the program has been used to
hire these new faculty members in University of Minnesota Extension.

  • Erin Cortus, assistant professor and Extension engineer, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
  • Diane DeWitte, Extension educator, swine
  • Jared Goplen, Extension educator, crops
  • Joleen Hadrich, associate professor and Extension economist, Department of Applied Economics
  • Annalisa Hultberg, Extension educator, food safety
  • Annie Klodd, Extension educator, fruit and vegetable production
  • Chryseis Modderman, Extension educator, crops
  • Dr. Noelle Noyes, assistant professor and Extension faculty, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine
  • Lindsay Pease, assistant professor and Extension soil scientist, Department of Soil, Water and Climate
  • Anne Sawyer, Extension educator, food safety
  • Kim VanderWaal, assistant professor and Extension faculty, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine
  • Megan Webb, assistant professor and Extension animal scientist, Department of Animal Science
  • Melissa Wilson, assistant professor and Extension soil scientist, Department of Soil, Water and Climate
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