Reluctant student becomes ag researcher

Cody Creech, dryland cropping systems specialist, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

Cody Creech grew up on a dairy farm on the Utah/Idaho border outside the beautiful Utah town of Cornish, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, in Cache Valley, with Bear River and Cache National Forest nearby. The area is known for milk production and Chace Valley Cheese.

“I grew up on a dairy farm,” Creech said. “My family still operates a dairy farm. It’s also a crop/livestock farm with irrigated wheat, barley, corn, alfalfa – anything cows want to eat.”

Agriculture marks Creech’s life, boyhood to the present.

“Farming, both cattle and farm production, is in my blood,” Creech said. “It’s what I enjoy doing.”

Love for agriculture led Creech to a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree to a doctorate, though he says reluctantly. This reluctant student became a researcher.

“I’m not a fan of school, but my dad encouraged me to apply myself,” Creech said. “My brother did a PhD, and through him I knew higher education could be a potential career path.”

Creech earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Utah State University, master’s degree in plant science from Utah State University, and doctorate in agronomy and weed science from the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

“I graduated with my PhD from UNL in 2015 and was immediately hired by the University and placed here at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center,” Creech said.

Creech does many things at the center that benefits growers and producers. His main role or objective is to help farmers.

“My main objective is applied research,” Creech said. “I want to benefit growers in the field by doing things they can readily adopt, things a grower can take and use. I want to help growers where they are now while looking forward.

“A recent project we’re looking at is grain sorghum (milo) production in the Panhandle. Sorghum is not adapted to the Panhandle, but it’s an extremely drought tolerant plant. Sorghum is perfect for dry areas, like the Panhandle. A problem is that sorghum is a warm season plant, and we don’t get the heat here. So we’re looking at ways to make grain sorghum a more consistent and better performing crop in the Panhandle.”

Creech leads some 80 research projects each year, all intended to benefit farmers. He attempts to finds solutions that don’t involve increased production expense for growers.

“I want to find solutions to grower problems in a way that doesn’t cost them a lot of money,” Creech said. “For example, if I can do the research and show an increase in yield by doing certain things that don’t cost the grower money, he benefits, things like wheat plant date, wheat row spacing, wheat populations, moisture issues, rotation, or something else. Fine-tuning such things can be beneficial. I want to promote and encourage that to help growers.”

Creech relies on a team to help bring workable solutions to growers.

“I’m fortunate to have a good team that does a lot of the field work, boots on the ground stuff,” Creech said. “I take the information they gather and develop ideas for which direction research should go, find funding, and coordinate grants…whatever needs done to execute a project.”

Creech always strives and works to help producers, bringing them new ideas when possible.

“I like helping producers,” Creech said. I value the relationships. They make the experience special. And I enjoy bringing growers new ideas that work when possible.”

Creech said he enjoys his role. He’s excited about new and upcoming things in research and extension, like the recent move of the Nebraska State Variety Testing Program.

“One thing that’s really exciting to me is last year we moved the Nebraska State Variety Testing Program from Lincoln to Sidney under my program. Hopefully putting the information we generate in the hands of the growers so they can make better decisions. This valuable and available information will hopefully benefit them.”

When Creech is not working in research, he enjoys his family and family activities.

“I enjoy my family,” Creech said.” “We love rural life, fishing, camping, gardening, raising crops and livestock. We hope to be here in the area for a long time.”

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