Anna Cates


Currently a PhD Student in Agronomy

Soil Science and Agroecology, M.S.

Expected Graduation: Spring 2014

Educational Background

Dartmouth College, BA in History, 2006


I will be working with Dr. Ruark on measurements of dynamic soil properties within the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trials (WICST). Six Wisconsin crop rotation systems have been in trial at the Arlington research site since 1990. This long history gives us a unique chance to measure the effects of management over time. I will be measuring labile organic matter and aggregate size distribution.A clear understanding of how these properties differ in soils with different management histories will perhaps allow us to predict the amount of plant-available N more precisely and use fertilizer more efficiently.

Personal Information

I was born in Spring Green, Wisconsin, but grew up under the big skies and big mountains in Montana.I studied history and theater at Dartmouth, especially focusing on the Surrealists’ vision of society turned upside down.In between academic years I rowed gear for fisherman down the 60-mile canyon of the Smith River in Montana.After undergrad, I spent several years working on organic farms packing hundreds of CSA boxes, washing lots of plastic tubs and carrots, mixing chevre, curing meats and re-purposing tractor parts.I loved the physical work and problem solving, and decided to go back to school to learn the science too.Understanding soil is going to be an important part of sustaining human life on Earth as the population grows and the climate changes.Somewhere down the line I want to be a farmer again, too.