Crop, soil expert joins Research Extension Center

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, April 18, 2012


SUFFOLK—A love of chemistry led Dr. William Hunter Frame to a career in agriculture.

The Virginia Tech alumnus recently earned his doctorate in crop and soil environmental sciences, also known as agronomy. Beginning in May, Frame will work from the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, spending time with farmers in the region, particularly cotton producers.

Frame chose this area because he wanted to work with growers.

“I actually had a private offer,” said Frame, noting he also chose Suffolk because he wanted to be close to his parents in the Richmond area and family in Virginia Beach.

Dr. Allen Harper, director of the Research and Extension Center, said he is looking forward to Frame joining the staff.

The 27-year-old has taught graduate students and interns about agronomy. He also did research in soil fertility and plant nutrition, and worked on the efficiency of no-till cropping systems and the biochemical processes that regulate nutrient cycling.

All this is aimed at helping farmers grow the best crops.

Frame’s family background has its roots in agriculture.

“My mother was one of six daughters who grew up on a dairy farm,” he said. “But health reasons forced my grandfather to retire at the time I was born.”

Frame’s father worked for Philip Morris, though not on the side of growing the tobacco.

“I was in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) in Powhatan, and did soil judging,” said Frame. “I got interested in soil fertility and nutrient management, and have stuck with it ever since.”

In May 2007, after earning a bachelor’s degree in crop and environmental sciences at Virginia Tech, he went to the University of Tennessee and earned a master’s degree in plant sciences.

Frame’s doctoral dissertation was on using coated urea fertilizers in Virginia and North Carolina cropping systems.

“Urease naturally occurs in the ecosystems,” he said. “Urease converts urea, which can be in granular or liquid solutions, to ammonium, which is a form of nitrogen that plants take up and utilize.”

Frame enjoys hunting and fishing.

“I’m a big outdoorsman,” he said.

Softball and basketball are his favorite sports.