Longtime agronomist and noted soybean researcher Larry Heatherly of Stoneville, Miss., is the 2004 recipient of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's highest honor.

Heatherly, an Agricultural Research Service agronomist from 1975 until 2004, is this year's recipient of USDA's Plow Award for “enhancing economic opportunities for agricultural producers.”

At a recognition ceremony in Washington, USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman honored Heatherly with the award, sighting his leadership and accomplishments in soybean irrigation technology, the stale seedbed planting system and the early soybean production system for the Mid-South region of the United States, which resulted in increased yields and profits.

Heatherly spent his entire post-graduate career with USDA-ARS at Stoneville. His research specialty areas are soybean irrigation, cropping systems, economics of cropping systems that use soybeans and economics of tillage systems for soybeans. Heatherly developed the stale seedbed concept, soybean irrigation technology and the Early Soybean Production System.

He was a co-recipient of the Soybean Research Team Recognition Award presented by the American Soybean Association in 1991.