Carrie Ortel has been named Virginia’s new soybean agronomist and begins her tenure at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center on April 10, 2024. With the retirement of longtime soybean agronomist, David Holshouser, Virginia Tech was left with a vacuum to fill to serve soybean producers across the state. Ortel has been chosen following an extensive international search.

Ortel lived in Reston, Virginia, until she started her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech. She is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas with a focus on nutrient management in soybean and rice rotations. 

To get to know Ortel, she answered some questions about her new role below:

What drew your attention to this position? 

"I’m excited for the opportunity to come back to my alma mater and use the knowledge I have gained to serve the Virginia Tech community and Virginia soybean producers. Virginia Cooperative Extension was extremely influential to me growing up as a 4-H'er, so it’s an honor to be able to join this team and give back as an Extension Specialist. I hope to use this opportunity to research yield-limiting factors in Virginia soybean production to provide sound management recommendations."

What are your thoughts on the soybean industry and/or why you enjoy working in this crop? 

Soybeans are an extremely versatile crop, providing agronomic benefits and producing a wide variety of potential end products. "This creates many opportunities for the future success of the Virginia soybean industry, which currently adds over $300 million to the Virginia economy annually. I plan to seek out these opportunities and provide both yield and profit maximizing management recommendations to promote the success of Virginia soybean growers. Ultimately, my goal is to support the success of the Virginia soybean producers, which will define the success of my career and the Virginia integrated soybean extension and research program."

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

"I’m looking forward to moving back closer to my family, getting involved in the community, and meeting the stakeholders. The soybean growers and Extension agents are a top priority, and I cannot wait to work with them. I intend to use the current issues and questions to direct my research and build a program which addresses their needs through direct communication and through the development of user-friendly decision support tools."