Celebrating 1,000 issues of the Extension Agronomy eUpdate!

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On April 18, 2024, we mark a significant milestone in our journey of sharing agronomic information with those associated with agriculture in Kansas and beyond. We proudly announce the 1,000th issue of the Extension Agronomy eUpdate, a testament to over eighteen years of dedication, innovation, and collaboration.

From the first issue on September 29, 2005, to today, the Extension Agronomy eUpdate has been a trusted resource of objective, research-based information for farmers, agronomists, agricultural extension agents, and many others. With each weekly edition, we've strived to deliver timely, relevant, and practical information to support sustainable agricultural practices, enhance crop productivity, and navigate the dynamic challenges of modern farming.

As we reach this remarkable milestone, this article reflects on the countless hours of research, the dedication of our contributors, and the support of our readers who have made this journey possible. We hope you enjoy learning about the creation and early years of the eUpdate and the recollections of some key individuals, which are shared below.

From Steve Watson, eUpdate Editor (Issues 1 to 648; 2005-2017)

One day in 2005, I was working in my office in Throckmorton Hall when Jim Shroyer stopped by. Jim was one of two Extension Crop Production Specialists at the time. He and Dan Devlin, then the Extension Environmental Quality Specialist, were thinking about starting up an electronic newsletter for Extension Agronomy to go primarily to all the Extension Agriculture Agents in Kansas. I was the communications person for the department at the time, so Jim asked if I wanted to work with him and the others in Agronomy to make it happen. I said, “Sure,” and asked if he had a name for the newsletter. He said he did – the Agronomy eUpdate.

To make it useful and successful, I felt it was important that the newsletter be published weekly. Doing a weekly publication like this is very hard, and most newsletters gradually die out as people go on to other things. Additionally, we decided the newsletter would need a permanent editor who understood what kind of information ag agents and producers need during the year. We expanded our collaborators beyond the agronomy department to include K-State plant pathologists, entomologists, economists, ag engineers, and animal scientists.

The method of delivery has changed over the years, but not the quality of the information. For the first several years, distributing the eUpdate relied heavily on Extension Agronomy office specialist Troy Lynn Eckart. She worked diligently to send out the eUpdate as an email attachment every Friday afternoon. That delivery method gradually changed over the years. Due to the skill of Arthur Selman, the department's IT specialist, the eUpdate was converted to an online format in 2013. After I retired in 2017, we hired Kathy Gehl – an agronomist by training and a good writer – to be the editor. She has upheld and improved the newsletter during her tenure. The email format underwent a significant update in November 2019, and in January 2021, the release day was moved to Thursday afternoon.

It is a credit to everyone involved that the Agronomy eUpdate has become a premier publication of its kind in the nation and that readers can still count on it to come out every week.

From Jim Shroyer, Extension Crops Specialist and Professor Emeritus

When Dan Devlin, Steve Watson, and I discussed starting the eUpdates, if someone had told us this electronic newsletter would reach so many people for as long as it has, we would’ve laughed at the thought. It was only going to go to County Ag Agents, but that changed in a hurry. Soon, it had a wider audience and covered more disciplines.

This has truly been a team effort from the start. Troy Lynn Eckart and Arthur Selman are to be applauded for all their work, and Kathy Gehl continues in a stellar fashion. Last but not least, a special thanks to all the contributors who provided pertinent and timely information. This is what made the eUpdate so useful right from the start. Now, on to the next 1,000 issues!

From Gary Pierzynski, past K-State Department Head of Agronomy; current Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and Director of the Ohio State Agricultural Experiment Station

The eUpdates have and continue to serve an extremely important role in the Land Grant mission. Users receive valuable information when needed, and sometimes before they even know they need it, which allows K-State Agronomy to extend its impact within Kansas and beyond.

Credit goes to Jim Shroyer and Dan Devlin for the original concept, Steve Watson for keeping it going and providing valuable content, Arthur Selman for making the behind-the-scenes technology work, Kathy Gehl for keeping the whole process up to date, and all the contributors who created the content that is so useful for the audience. Keep up the good work to ensure “Just Another Day in Agronomy”!

From Raj Khosla, K-State Department Head and Professor of Agronomy

I extend my congratulations to the entire team of eUpdate creators and curators. The 1,000th issue of our Extension Agronomy eUpdate is an excellent milestone to attain. However, we couldn’t have reached this landmark alone. I want to extend my gratitude to all those who consume the relevant information that our outstanding faculty create and share.

A recent survey conducted by the e-Update team revealed that 91% of our readers find eUpdate articles to be “highly valuable or extremely valuable” and that it is a “go-to resource to share with local farmers”. Another reader reported, “It is the first thing I read or search for a topic.” Such testimonials affirm our conviction in providing timely and useful information in a bite-size format, which makes it easier to digest and share and could be applied immediately by our clientele and stakeholders. Thank you for your continued support as the Agronomy eUpdate newsletter grows in readership.

I want to take this opportunity to share that the Department of Agronomy is hiring a new Extension Specialist focused on Precision Agriculture and related issues to strengthen our Extension team further. This is a new position that did not exist previously in our department. Please look forward to regular tips and valuable information on precision agronomy in future eUpdates.

I wish the very best to the eUpdate team and look forward to another significant milestone. Congratulations!

From Kathy Gehl, current eUpdate Editor (Issues 649 to current; 2017-present)

One key factor contributing to our success has been our commitment to collaboration. We are proud to have forged strong partnerships with various departments, county and area extension agents, crop commissions, and other stakeholders. Through these collaborations, we've captured a diverse range of expertise and insight into the needs of farmers in Kansas. These collaborations have been instrumental in enriching the content and reach of the Extension Agronomy eUpdate.

Another facet important to increasing the reach of the eUpdate was creating a website for the eUpdate and sharing the articles on social media. During Dr. Pierzynski’s tenure as Department Head, he launched the eUpdate on social media (X, formerly Twitter; @KStateAgron), greatly expanding its reach and visibility. Before this, the eUpdate was emailed to a few hundred subscribers. Now, between the email subscribers and our followers on social media, we reach over 12,000 people each week just on our own. Other sources amplify this reach. You can often see eUpdate content appearing in newspapers, online farming magazines, and on the radio (check out K-State’s own “Agriculture Today” at https://agtodayksu.libsyn.com/).

As we look to the future, we renew our pledge to continue serving as a trusted ally and a reliable source of information for the agricultural community. Join us in celebrating this momentous occasion! Here's to 1,000 issues of growth, learning, and shared success!

Explore the Extension Agronomy eUpdate archive and stay connected with us at eupdate.agronomy.ksu.edu as we continue to cultivate knowledge, one issue at a time.

Thank you for being part of our journey! Please send me any comments or feedback as we continue to improve this resource for our readers.


Kathy Gehl, Extension Agronomy eUpdate Editor

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