Nicolas Cafaro La Menza

Nicolas Cafaro La Menza


·West Central Research, Extension and Education Center

Nicolas Cafaro La Menza

Assistant Professor

Area of Expertise: Plant Physiology, Weed, and Production Systems

Main Area of Focus

Resource use efficiency, nutrient dynamics, ecophysiology

Research Interests

The biogeochemical cycles are natural pathways by which essential elements such as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur circulate in the Earth's ecosystems. The agroecosystems can significantly modify biogeochemical cycles causing water and air pollution and global warming. My long-term research goal is to develop agronomic tools and strategies to improve agroecosystems management productively and sustainably. To achieve that, I study crop nutrient dynamics and resource use efficiency of sunlight, water, and nitrogen to integrate them into the cropping system. In rainfed and irrigated cropping systems with limited water, maximizing crop production and economic and environmental viability has been challenging. For example, cropping systems in the west-central Nebraska area are mostly cereal-based with corn, wheat, and sorghum. Soybean and field peas are two legume crops partially established in the area but with comparatively lower acreage than cereals. Also, the use of cover crops, particularly in irrigated fields, is a developing management practice increasingly adopted. Therefore, I am interested in the role of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation in cropping systems and the impact of cover crops on the nutrient dynamics and nutrient management of the cash crop.

Extension Interests

Through extension outreach, I listen to growers, visit farm and industry operations, identify current and emerging issues in cropping systems to bring these issues to a research program, and provide research-based information to growers to help them with their daily agronomic decisions. It is my goal to help growers improve their crop management practices and profitability while maintaining the farm operation environmentally sound. The west-central region in Nebraska demands research-based information on legume crops such as soybean and field peas, the use of cover crops, and nutrient management.


Google Scholar publication list
  • Cafaro La Menza, N., Monzon, J.P., Specht, J.E. and Grassini, P., 2017. Is soybean yield limited by nitrogen supply?. Field Crops Research, 213, pp.204-212.
  • Cafaro La Menza, N., Monzon, J.P., Specht, J.E., Lindquist, J.L., Arkebauer, T.J., Graef, G. and Grassini, P., 2019. Nitrogen limitation in high-yield soybean: Seed yield, N accumulation, and N-use efficiency. Field Crops Research, 237, pp.74-81.
  • Cafaro La Menza, N., Monzon, J.P., Lindquist, J.L., Arkebauer, T.J., Knops, J.M., Unkovich, M., Specht, J.E. and Grassini, P., 2020. Insufficient nitrogen supply from symbiotic fixation reduces seasonal crop growth and nitrogen mobilization to seed in highly productive soybean crops. Plant, cell & environment, 43(8), pp.1958-1972.
  • Monzon, J.P., Cafaro La Menza, N., Cerrudo, A., Canepa, M., Edreira, J.I.R., Specht, J., Andrade, F.H. and Grassini, P., 2021. Critical period for seed number determination in soybean as determined by crop growth rate, duration, and dry matter accumulation. Field Crops Research, 261, p.108016.
  • Grassini, P., Cafaro La Menza, N., Edreira, J.I.R., Monzón, J.P., Tenorio, F.A. and Specht, J.E., 2021. Soybean. In Crop Physiology Case Histories for Major Crops (pp. 282-319). Academic Press.