William E. Larson

x1994 Academic 

Born in 1921, William Larson was raised on a family farm in Nebraska. Today, he is known as a steadfast champion of conservation tillage, a technique that effectively reduces soil erosion by loosening soil without inverting it. By allowing crop residue to remain on the surface, erosion can sometimes be reduced by more than 50 percent.

Larson has worked tirelessly with national databases to help develop the means to accurately assess soil quality. His work to develop measures for soil quality and degradation is aiding the fight to preserve soil around the world. His work has influenced national policies guiding the use of crop residue to enhance soil conservation. Many producers and leading soil scientists attribute a good portion of current conservation tillage systems to the early work of William Larson.

Larson received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy from the University of Nebraska, then went on to earn a doctorate in soil science from Iowa State University. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Soil Conservation Society of America (SCSA).

Larson has held important positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is professor emeritus of Soil Science at the University of Minnesota since his retirement in 1989. The William E. Larson Chair in Soil and Water Resources was named in his honor.