UACES Facebook Matt Fryer new Division of Agriculture soil instructor
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Matt Fryer new Division of Agriculture soil instructor

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 8, 2019


  • Fryer to study ways to quantify soil health
  • Fryer began his career with the Division of Agriculture in 2016 as a Crawford County Extension Agent

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LITTLE ROCK— Matt Fryer made the trek from Little Rock to Marianna, Arkansas, on Feb. 21 to attend the county soybean production meeting to introduce himself and offer his services to county agents as the new University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture soil instructor.


He has been to about 10 meetings around the state since starting the position Jan. 2.  

“I’m trying to go to as many meetings as possible to introduce myself face-to-face with county agents,” Fryer said.

Fryer began his career with extension in 2016 as a Crawford County extension agent. As a county agent, his job duties touched on all areas of agriculture, he said, but his new position allows him to focus on what he studied in graduate school — soil fertility.

“This position allows me to specialize in my strong suit,” Fryer said.

Fryer graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 2013, then earned a master’s degree in soil fertility from University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 2015.

“The terms ‘soil health’ and ‘soil quality' have been around since the 1990’s, but how to quantify those is still unclear,” Fryer said.

“There are some methods for testing available,” he said, noting he plans to begin evaluating known methods for efficacy in his new position.

Fryer said soil health could be broken down in to three main categories: physical health, which includes water infiltration and aggregate stability; soil fertility, which encompasses soil nutrients, pH levels; and biological health which encompasses soil macro- and microbiology.

His position will be initially funded through a three-year Natural Resources Conservation Service grant to research soil health in row crops using cover crops. The grant requires that at least 25 demonstration farms be planted. The grant funding began before Fryer was given the position, so six farms have already been planted. He said the rest should be planted this fall.

For more information about soil health visit us online at Follow Fryer on Twitter @ARsoilsGuy .

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.  

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126