Trips to his grandfather’s farm in Des Arc, Ark., have led Jeremy Ross to accept a new job as a soybean specialist for the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Ross, 35, of Little Rock, is no stranger to the Extension Service. Over the last 10 years, he’s piled up a lot of mileage on behalf of the service. He worked as a research associate in crop diseases for more than three years for Rick Cartwright, Extension plant pathologist, and since 2000 he has been coordinator for the Corn and Grain Sorghum Research Verification Program.

Ross will fill the position vacated when Chris Tingle left the Extension service earlier this year.

“I think I bring a different spin on the soybean program since my background is mainly in diseases and soil science,” he said. “We’ll continue the big emphasis on monitoring for soybean rust in the state. And we’ll continue to look at Chris’ work with row spacing, seeding rates, twin rows, different varieties and early soybean production.

“Fertility is an area in which we’re probably lacking,” Ross said. “Some of our recommendations date back to the 1970s. With an increase in biofuels, there will be a high demand on acreage for soybeans and increasing yields to produce the most economical crop.”

Asked if the interest in biofuels means it’s a good time to be a soybean farmer, Ross said: “I think it potentially could be. Once we get a few more plants built, then the demand will increase. Now, we have two plants in production and two or three others have been proposed.”

He said it will be a different market than soybean farmers have had and should increase the price of soybeans in a local, regional market.

Ross said he would attend a number of crop production meetings in several counties and get acquainted with farmers and industry people to “get a handle on future needs in the program.”

Ross said his interest in agriculture was piqued while growing up when he made regular trips to his grandfather’s farm near Des Arc, Ark.

“We’d go out during planting and harvest, and especially when he was irrigating rice and soybeans, and spend time helping out.”