OSU Professor Makes an Impact in Agriculture through Extension Work
Monday, March 20, 2023
For Hailin Zhang, Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University, his passion regarding the importance of food, feed, fiber, and fuel production for a society began as a child in rural China. He received his bachelor’s degree from Nanjing Agricultural University, China, and later graduated from Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota with his master’s degree and Ph.D., respectively.
Zhang said he sees the importance in advancing our skills to improve farming efficiency while minimizing the impact of agriculture on the environment. After serving the Navajo Nation’s Agricultural Products Industry for six years, Zhang decided to apply for a faculty position at OSU.
“I thought my skills in soil science and nutrient management could have a larger impact, so I applied to my current position 27 years ago,” he said.
Since then, Zhang said he has enjoyed serving the agricultural and environmental community in Oklahoma as a State Extension Specialist and Director of OSU’s Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory (SWFAL).
In extension, Zhang directs a comprehensive, statewide soil testing and animal waste nutrient management program that focuses on helping Oklahomans and other stakeholders solve issues of importance to them, their families and their communities through science-based recommendations and active engagement.
“Under my leadership, sample volume has more than doubled, turnaround time shortened and both quality and efficiency demonstrably improved,” he said.
Zhang has also authored and coauthored more than 190 referred journal papers, more than 200 Extension fact sheets, bulletins and news releases, and edited one book.
Throughout Zhang’s time at OSU, his efforts have been recognized by his peers in numerous ways, including appointment as an OSU Regents Professor, being selected as a Fellow in the Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, as well as receiving prestigious extension and research awards.
“The U.S. agricultural extension system is the best in the world,” Zhang said. “We are able to disseminate scientific information to Oklahomans efficiently. For example, farmers and gardeners know what and how much of a nutrient to apply to their fields through our soil test recommendations.”
Zhang is happy to be able to solve people’s problems, and his extension and research activities will continue to focus on soil, plant, water and animal waste testing, nutrient management, and environmental quality protection in the coming years. He said, “Through our efficient agricultural testing and nutrient management outreach program, we are able to guide producers using right source and right rate of nutrients to optimize their crop production and minimize the cost and impart of farming on the environment.”
In Zhang’s free time, he said he likes to take daily walks and garden.