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December 03, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
December 03, 2009

Dr.Richard Guthrie
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Dr. Richard Guthrie, retiring dean of Auburn University's College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, will be presented the Alabama Farmers Federation's highest award during its 88th Annual Meeting at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center in Mobile on Dec. 6-7.

The Service to Agriculture Award will be presented to Guthrie during Sunday afternoon's opening general session in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Alabama agriculture throughout his career. In addition to his work in soil mapping, Guthrie has made significant contributions in advancing precision agriculture and has been a proponent of bio-energy, water resource management and plant and animal genetics.

"His is a career marked by remarkable changes in agriculture," said Federation President Jerry A. Newby. "Three decades ago, 95 percent of Alabama's cropland was tilled or plowed; today, almost that much is NOT tilled or plowed. Farmers use less fertilizer and chemicals. Precision agriculture is proving to be better, smarter and cheaper. Soil scientists like Dr. Richard Guthrie are one reason for that. By helping farmers better understand the soil beneath their feet, they have enabled our farmers to produce better crops more abundantly."

Guthrie, 68, grew up milking cows on the family's Bullock County dairy farm, but found time to become a star athlete at Union Springs High School and earn a football scholarship to Auburn in 1958. He arrived after Auburn's undefeated 1957 national championship, but counted Zeke Smith, Loyd Nix and Mailon Kent among his teammates.

In 1962, after receiving a bachelor's degree in agronomy and soils, Guthrie began working with the Soil Conservation Service. He completed a master's in soil science from Auburn in 1965 and received his doctorate in soil science from Cornell University in 1968. After a number of years with the USDA and the SCS in Alabama, Texas and Washington, D.C., Guthrie returned to Auburn in 1983 as professor and head of the Department of Agronomy and Soils.

From 1985 to 1988, he served the College of Agriculture as acting dean before being appointed associate dean of international programs in 1988, a position he held until his first official retirement in 2003.

Guthrie came out of retirement in the fall of 2005 to become dean of the College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.

Guthrie has not set an official retirement date, but says the university's search committee hopes to have a successor in place by August 2010.

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