Luke Gatiboni Returns to Crop & Soil Sciences’ Fertile Grounds

The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences welcomes Luke Gatiboni as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in soil fertility and nutrient management.  He comes to us after 15 years at Santa Catarina State University in Brazil researching and teaching on soil fertility.

We talked with Luke recently about his passion for farmers and his family’s move to North Carolina.

1.) What brought you to NC State?

I worked as a research scholar here in Soil Sciences in 2013-2014 studying North Carolina’s system to avoid water pollution.  We measured phosphorus thresholds for swine-manured soils.  We wanted to apply the same system in Brazil.  So I was familiar with the university. 

NC State is very well recognized in Brazil.   Many people from here helped establish modern agriculture in Brazil in the 1970s.  The region where I am from in southern Brazil is very rural with very small cities.  I was excited to come here for the opportunity to develop research and extension programs for farmers.  By working here, I can help farmers everywhere – in NC and Brazil at the same time.

2). What are your priorities in your new position?

My position is mostly focused on extension.  I want to help farmers produce commodities in this region.  I will concentrate on updating our soil test-based nutrient and lime recommendations.   We want to help maximize yields and profitability for farmers while avoiding losses.  Mostly I worked with soybeans, corn, and pine forests in Brazil but nutrient management is similar in other crops.  Our climates are actually quite similar too.  Most people think of Brazil as a tropical climate, but I was in southern Brazil which is sub-tropical – very similar to here.  But we were just going in to winter there with our first frosts.  Now I’m back in summer.

In a short period of time, I want to build a research and extension group attracting great students to study the important problems of farmers.  So I’m focused on building a team.  I will also be teaching a graduate course in fall semesters on soil fertility.

3.). What is your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?

At our university, I was part of a team that rebuilt fertilizer recommendations for southern Brazil.  In 2016, we released a book that every farm uses as a guide to fertilizer application.  It took a long time to develop but is a great tool for the farmers.  We want them to know we are here for them.  I hope my experience there will help to refine our NC liming and fertilizer recommendations.    

4.)  What will you miss most about Brazil?

There are so many things to consider!  I am still distance-advising 5 masters and Ph.D. students in Brazil.  I’ll be working with them for the next two years.  So I haven’t completely left.  But I know I will miss the mate.  It’s a caffeinated tea from native tree leaves.  We drink it instead of coffee in the morning.  That will be hard to find!

5.). Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I don’t like soccer!  Everyone talks about soccer in Brazil.  But I really know nothing about it!

Luke and his wife arrived in NC this month with their 12 year old son.  Please join us in welcoming him back to NC State and our department!