4 Agronomists Who Pioneered Today’s Higher Yields

April 16, 2013 10:39 PM

We owe it all to these people who saw the opportunities and followed up with the science that resulted in today’s dramatically higher yields.


To say that agriculture has experienced change since the inception of Top Producer is a gross understatement. The 30 brave thinkers we have chosen to represent the dramatic changes during the past three decades have all left big footprints on production agriculture.

Robert Fraley. In 1983, Fraley and his Monsanto research team found a method to create transgenic plants by using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a pathogenic bacterium. This method ultimately led to the commercialization of genetically modified plants. Now an executive vice president and chief technology officer, Fraley is credited for the discovery, development and successful commercialization of Roundup Ready crops. Today, he oversees Monsanto’s integrated crop and seed agribusiness technology and research facilities globally. He has served as technical adviser to numerous government and public agencies, including the USDA, National Science Foundation, Office of Technology Assessment and the National Academy of Science, among many others. In 1999, Fraley received the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton.

Harry Stine. An innovator, businessman and entrepreneur, Stine began a soybean breeding program, which had previously only been done by universities. In 1973, Stine and Bill Eby formed Midwest Oilseeds, which today is the soybean genetics licensing company of choice. In 1992, in addition to being one of the top four soybean seed companies, Stine began selling corn and soft red winter wheat.

Richard Wilson. One of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of corn happened in 2009. This was not done by a corn researcher, but by one of the world’s foremost cancer researchers. "Seed companies and corn scientists will pounce on this data to find their favorite genes," Wilson says of the breakthrough. Wilson, a molecular biologist and director of Washington University’s Genome Institute, did not do it alone. He was the lead scientist on the project and the principal work was done at his center. Sequencing the corn genome raises the specter of a second green revolution all over the planet through new potential for traits.

Jim Kinsella.
The innovative mind behind the concept of strip tillage is Kinsella. This Illinois farmer is considered one of the fathers of the no-till movement. He worked with companies to create a strip-till machine. He has opened up his shop doors and hosted workshops, educating more than 90,000 farmers about the benefits of practicing no-till and strip-till.

We know agriculture’s advancements in all its myriad forms have not been accomplished by just 30 people. Read the complete list: Brave Thinkers: 30 Leaders Who Made a Difference


Who advanced agriculture the most during the past 30 years? Cast your vote at TopProducer-Online.com/Brave_Thinkers

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