Meet Ramon Leon

One gets the sense that Ramon Leon of the Weed Science program sees the big picture in world crop production needs. Not just because of the panoramic computer screen that allows him to track several projects at once; it’s his comprehensive understanding of the world of weed science and his commitment to making the world’s agronomy future better through his research.

Ramon joins NC State from the University of Florida. He earned his BS in Agronomy at University of Costa Rica, MS and a double PhD in Crop Production and Genetics at Iowa State. “I came to NC State, one of the strongest weed science programs in the world. I’m happy to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

He will teach weed ecology as part of the graduate program.  “Weeds are ubiquitous, from state to state.” A current focus: “Palmer amaranth, invading with rapid adaptation to local crops.”  Palmer amaranth, an agronomic weed native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico, is a significant pest of soybean and cotton producers.  Studies include weed evolution modeling growth.

On campus for about two months now,  Ramon hit the ground running, having worked with David Jordan of the peanut program before joining  Crop and Soil Sciences faculty. That collaboration continues as other studies are undertaken. He’s starting new research with Rob Richardson, Wesley Everman and Travis Gannon using remote sensing drones with cameras to develop models for environmental information, researching the possibility of pretreating weeds before emergence or producing seed.

What does Ramon see as a major challenge? “Simple. Weeds are the second most important problem for food crop security, after drought.  Almost no one is working on our weed issues around the world.” He cites that frequently in developing countries, half of an individual’s working life is spent weeding the crop. Ramon is working on solutions to improve this situation. “I truly believe weeds are major super threat to food supply. That’s what gets me going in the morning.”

He is optimistic about the big picture, which includes continued research and global collaboration. “Understand weeds and manage them. Whatever we do, the needs are so big; but we will meet the challenges.”

– article by Kaki Carl