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Remembering George Rehm: Longtime Extension specialist helped Minnesota farmers improve soil fertility practices

George Rehm
Professor Emeritus and longtime Extension specialist George Rehm passed away Wednesday, January 17th in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 82 years old. George was instrumental in developing nutrient management guidelines enabling growers throughout the state of Minnesota to use soil fertility inputs effectively and efficiently.

George Rehm served as a professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate from 1983 to 2007. He received a B.S. degree from The Ohio State University and then completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1969 in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil Science.

George immediately began his academic career at the University of Nebraska as an extension agronomist for fourteen years at the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Concord, NE. He returned to Minnesota and joined the Department of Soil Science (now the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate) in 1983 as an extension specialist in nutrient management.

George’s extension activities focused on developing educational programs related to soil fertility for use throughout the state of Minnesota. His applied research program highlighted the importance of improving nutrient use efficiency and fine-tuning fertilizer application guidelines for the major agronomic cropping systems in the state. A primary goal was to develop a firm database to provide the basis for the development of research-based fertilizer management recommendations. Areas of his research focused on the use and benefits of fluid fertilizers, beneficial uses of agricultural lime, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium sulfur, magnesium, zinc, and copper for Minnesota cropping systems. Special problems in fertilizer placement in conservation tillage systems, as well as iron-deficiency chlorosis in soybeans were also key areas he focused on in his research and educational programs. He was a prolific writer and authored numerous scientific publications as well as extension fact sheets, newsletters, and regional publications.

George Rehm had a special relationship with those he worked with, especially farmers. He often said that his job was to help farmers, and if the scientific community was affected, so be it. He loved the variability of his work on campus, but mostly out in fields and coffee shops across the state. While Rehm’s work could be directly seen in presentations and publications, his influence and philosophy was very significant and apparent as he mentored numerous junior faculty throughout his time in Minnesota. New faculty working in production agriculture, especially those working with extension appointments, always had George helping them with establishing their programs and learning their positions and the state’s agriculture. Although often without credit, George helped write/edit many academic and extension publications for the benefit of others. He was also a contributor to many graduate student programs and was a memorable role model for countless undergraduate students who worked on applied soil fertility projects during the summer and throughout the school year. George led by example and was highly respected by his field staff.

During his time at the University of Minnesota, Rehm was an associate editor for the Soil Science Society of America. He also served on the boards of Agvise Laboratories, the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers association, and the Minnesota Certified Crop Advisors. He played an integral role in establishing the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC), a fertilizer user fund to support research and educational activities related to the efficient use of fertilizer in the state.

He was the recipient of numerous awards, including Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy; Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, Fluid Fertilizer Foundation Researcher of the Year Award, Fluid Fertilizer Foundation Werner H. Nelson Award, University of Minnesota Extension Director’s Distinguished Faculty Award; and American Society of Agronomy Agronomic Extension Education Award.

In his retirement, he reinvested in the department with a series of fellowships for graduate students focusing on nutrient management. Since 2019, The George Rehm Fellowship has financially supported eight students to complete their degrees and continue into the field of soil fertility.

Visitation will be Friday, February 16 from 4-6pm at the Lundberg Funeral Home in Cannon Falls. A memorial service will be Saturday, February 17 at 11am, with visitation from 10-11 am, at the First English Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls. This service will be live-streamed and available to watch. For more information on how to live-stream this service, see George's obituary.
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  1. We worked with George over the years and he was a class act!! My condolences to the family they can be very proud he left his mark on many people.

  2. George will be missed. As a farmer we could always count on George.


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