Position Title
Chief Scientist, Cropping Systems

Russell Ranch

PES Building 3314

Nicole is a Cropping Systems Scientist who joined the Russell Ranch team in late 2017. Nicole also helps coordinate research with the extensive network of University of California and industry researchers who come to Russell Ranch to conduct research in the facility's unique long-term agroecosystems. Nicole grew up in southern WI and consequently loves dairy cropping systems and forages. She double-majored in Agronomy and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed her PhD in Crop Science at Washington State University, where she investigated agronomic and soil fertility management in dryland organic wheat-based systems. Nicole has conducted on-the-ground agricultural research in wheat, corn, beans, forage, and grazing systems, as well as working with Kernza, a new perennial grain crop. 

Her research focuses on increasing the diversity of crop rotations and landscape cover in agricultural production systems using a variety of techniques, including the incorporation of legumes, organic soil amendments (e.g., compost), and grazing into row crop rotations. Current projects include developing cropping system practices that encourage greater organic matter input to soil to reduce synthetic fertilizer application, through increasing the use of organic soil amendments, legumes in grain rotations, perennial crops and covers, and the incorporation of livestock into annual row cropping systems. An increase in these practices will also require a greater understanding of nutrient cycling, and I am currently investigating N and P cycljng with winter cover crops and compost, as well as linking soil microbial communities and activity to nutrient cycling and agroecosystem functioning, particularly in terms of productivity and economic outcomes for growers.



PhD Crop Science, Washington State University  Oct  2016 
B.S. Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI     Dec 2012
B.A. Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI       Dec 2012

Professional Experience

Cropping Systems Research, Academic Coordinator, Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, UC Davis  Dec 2017 – Present
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Minnesota  Dec 2016 – Dec 2017
PhD Student/Research Assistant, Washington State University May 2013 – Oct 2016
Instructor, Advanced Cropping Systems, Washington State University Aug 2016 – Dec 2016
Teaching Assistant, Ecology of Weed Management, Washington State University  Aug 2013 – Dec 2014
Research Associate, University of Wisconsin Madison, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Jun 2012 – May 2013
Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial  Apr 2009 – May 2012


Selected Publications

Tautges, N.E., Jungers, J.M., DeHaan, L., Wyse, D.L., and Sheaffer, C.C. 2018. Maintaining grain yields of the perennial cereal intermediate wheatgrass in monoculture vs. biculture with alfalfa in the Upper Midwestern U.S. Journal of Agricultural Science 156:758773.

Frahm, C.S., Tautges, N.E., Jungers, J.M., Ehlke, N.J., Wyse, D.L., and Sheaffer, C.C. 2018. Responses of intermediate wheatgrass to plant growth regulators and nitrogen fertilizer. Agronomy Journal 110:1028–1035.

Jungers, J.M., Frahm, C.S., Tautges, N., Ehlke, N., Wells, M.S., Wyse, D.L., and Sheaffer, C.C. 2018. Growth, development, and biomass partitioning of the perennial grain crop Thinopyrum intermedium. Annals of Applied Biology 17:346–354.

Tautges, N.E., Borrelli, K., Burke, I.C., and Fuerst, E.P. Nitrogen fertility effects of alfalfa, pea green manure, and poultry manure on organic wheat productivity in a semiarid climate. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 42:169–188.

Fernandez, A.L., Fabrizzi, K.P., Tautges, N.E., Lamb, J.R., and Sheaffer, C.C. 2017. Cutting method and alfalfa stand age effects on organically grown corn grain yield and soil N availability. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

Tautges, N.E., Flavin, C., Michaels, T., Ehlke, N., Lamb, J., Jungers, J., and Sheaffer, C.C. 2017. Rotating alfalfa with dry bean as an alternative to corn-soybean rotations in organic systems in the Upper Midwest. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems doi:10.1017/S1742170517000321

Tautges, N.E., Sullivan, T.S., Reardon, C.L., and Burke, I.C. 2016. Soil microbial diversity and activity linked to crop yield and quality in a dryland organic wheat production system. Applied Soil Ecology 108:258–268.

Tautges, N.E., Goldberger, J.R., and Burke, I.C. 2016. A survey of weed management in organic small grains and forage systems in the Northwest U.S. Weed Science 64:513–522.

Tautges, N.E., Burke, I.C., Borrelli, K., and Fuerst, E.P. 2016. Competitive ability of rotational crops with weeds in dryland organic wheat production systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 32:57–68.