For example, an effective and economical weed control protocol Schmierer developed for alfalfa winter weed control is still the standard practice used by farmers in the intermountain and the Sacramento valleys. Using field research, Schmierer and his colleagues disproved a long-standing assumption that surface-applied phosphorus fertilizer is not effectively taken up by established alfalfa plants. This research proved that the phosphorus is taken up under spring growing conditions.

Since wheat has a low income potential, the economics of each agronomic practice must be analyzed. Schmierer led a team of farm advisors in an effort to substantiate the economic use of fungicides to control stripe rust pathogens in wheat.

We were able to define the conditions when fungicide usage was economically viable and conditions when the return was less than the investment of a fungicide treatment," he said. "This information, coupled with striperust-resistant varieties developed by UC Davis researchers, have given growers and pest control advisers what is needed to economically grow wheat in much of California."

Schmierer said he prefers to refer to the end of his career with UC Cooperative Extension not as "retirement," but as "graduation." To kick off his new life, Schmierer and his wife plan to take a six-month cross-country road trip that will end in Layfayette, Ind., where they plan to settle close to family. In time, he will start a private business in agriculture and information technology.