Three prominent agronomists were honored recently for their lifetime achievements by the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy at its annual conference in Visalia. Each of the honorees was chosen for his important contributions to agriculture.

The honorees were: Harry S. Agamalian of Salinas, Jim Brownell of Cambria (formerly of Fresno) and Fred Starrh of Shafter.

Harry S. Agamalian was the Agronomy and Weed Science Farm Advisor for Monterey County for 36 years. He published a number of publications and served as California Weed Science Society president. During his career, Agamalian was an active participant in the California Seed Certification Program and assisted in the development of California small white bean varieties. He also introduced Merced rye as a winter cover crop and conducted the first variety trial of the corn varieties that led to lead to the establishment of “corn nut” production. He has an international reputation for activities in weed control techniques and has shared his knowledge in several foreign countries.

Jim Brownell was a California State University, Fresno instructor of soils, plant nutrition and laboratory techniques for over 25 years. He also was a researcher for Digiorgio Farms and the University of California, Davis. He has consulted on soil management, irrigation, fertilizer and soil amendment use, waste materials utilization, swimming pool chemistry and soil selection and was a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt. Brownell also authored the proposal that created the Agricultural Energy Technology Project (AETP) and initial funding for the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at Fresno State. The successful completion of this project culminated in the formation of the California Agricultural Technology Institute (CATI) and permanent funding for CIT.

Fred Starrh has been an active participant in the development of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) cotton industry. Starrh was instrumental in transitioning the state's cotton industry to a “uniform quality” district ensuring the marketing advantage of SJV quality cotton. He has been an innovative leader in improving on-farm irrigation practices. Not only was Starrh an early adopter of soil moisture sensing technology, he also developed cultural systems that optimized the use of sprinkler irrigation systems. Starrh has held leadership roles with the Kern County Farm Bureau, American Cotton Producers Committee of the National Cotton Council, Western Cotton Growers, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, California Farm Water Coalition, U.C. Shafter Research and Extension Center Industry Advisory Committee, Cotton Incorporated and USDA Agriculture Technical Advisory Committee.

The mission of the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy is to promote human welfare through advising the acquisition and dissemination of scientific knowledge concerning the nature, use, improvement, and interrelationship of plants, soil and the environment.