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Brian Arnall
Brian Arnall, professor in the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and an OSU Extension specialist for precision nutrient management, was awarded the James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Research in Agricultural Sciences. (Photo by OSU Agriculture)

OSU Agriculture names Whatley Award recipient for 2023

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Media Contact: Mandy Gross | Senior Manager of Strategic and VP Communications | 405-744-4063 |

Oklahoma State University’s Brian Arnall has been named the 2023 recipient of the James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Research in Agricultural Sciences by the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

First recognized in 1982, the award is presented annually and recognizes outstanding research contributions to advancements in agricultural sciences.

Arnall began as an OSU Extension precision nutrient management specialist in 2006 and also became a professor in the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in 2019.

“It is such an honor to receive an award, especially given the amazing research contributions of my colleagues here at OSU,” Arnall said. “It is extremely important to me that I am doing research that can lead to recommendations implemented by Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers to ensure their sustainability and economic viability.”

Arnall is a global leader in the use of N-rich strips to improve crop nitrogen management, specializing in the timing of nitrogen applied in wheat, based on crop response.

Arnall’s work is widely respected and known across Oklahoma and several states due to his electronic and social media presence, said Brett Carver, regents professor and OSU wheat genetics chair.

“This tool is a classic example of Dr. Arnall’s advancement of environmental stewardship, impacting a half-million acres of wheat production via in-season nutrient applications,” Carver said. “Further, more than 1 million wheat acres from Nebraska to central Texas follow Dr. Arnall’s program for delayed nitrogen applications, intended to fine-tune the impact of nitrogen inputs.”

During his career, Arnall has authored 74 journal publications, four book chapters and received more than $13 million in support of his program. He has delivered more than 700 Extension presentations across Oklahoma and the world.

Arnall has served as a consultant or advisor to researchers at schools across the nation, including Cornell, the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina and Michigan State University. 

“His group has pioneered the use of remote sensing tools to estimate crop nutrient content, plant growth and crop yield,” said Wade Thomason, head of the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “This diversity of crops highlights his focus on teamwork and collaboration with other scientists. It also illustrates his desire to serve multiple stakeholder groups in Oklahoma and the southern plains region.”

Arnall credits teamwork as a driving factor in his research success, and his program’s accomplishments would not be possible without students and collaborators.

“He believes there is a need for research that pushes the boundaries of science, conventional wisdom and application,” Thomason said. “This approach means many of the concepts tested are unlikely to succeed with the expectations that successful projects will be that much more impactful on the scientific community and production agriculture.” ­

Whatley, in whose name the award is presented, was an animal geneticist who became director of the statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and dean of the division, which is comprised of the OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Extension and OSU Ag Research. Whatley served OSU for 41 years.

Story By: Ainsley Treesh |

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