Gary Varvel

Gary Varvel

KEIM 129
Lincoln NE 68583-0937

Gary Varvel

Emeritus Professor (Adjunct), Research Soil Scientist, USDA-ARS

B.A., Chemistry and Mathematics, Chadron State College, 1971

PhD., Soil Fertility and Chemistry, University of Nebraska, 1977

Area of Focus

Crop and Soil Sciences

Research Interests

Soil and crop management, cropping systems, soil fertility, and residue management

Major Project Activities

Project activities include investigations into the effects of cropping system and N fertilizer combinations on fertilizer use efficiency, crop yields, precipitation use efficiency, residual N levels, and carbon storage (sequestration) in dryland and irrigated production systems. Additional research activities include the comparison of no-till corn and switchgrass cropping systems on marginal soils to determine their potential for biofuel production and their effects on soil C sequestration.


  • Cambardella, C.A., Johnson J.M.F., and Varvel, G.E. 2012. Soil Carbon Sequestration in Central USA Agroecosystems. In Liebig, M.A., A.J. Franzluebbers, and R.F. Follett (Eds.) Managing agricultural greenhouse gases: Coordinated agricultural research through GRACEnet to address our changing climate. Elsevier Publ., San Diego, CA. P. 41-58. (book chapter)
  • Vogel, K.P., Follett, R.F., Varvel, G.E., Mitchell, R.B., and Kimble, J.M. 2012. Soil carbon sequestration by maize and switchgrass grown for bioenergy. BioEnergy Research. 5(4): 866-875.
  • Wienhold, B.J., Varvel, G.E., and Jin, V.L. 2011. Corn cob residue carbon and nutrient dynamics during decomposition. Agronomy Journal 103:1192-1197.
  • Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. 2011. No-tillage increases soil profile carbon and nitrogen under long-term rainfed cropping systems. Soil & Tillage Research 114:28-36.
  • Karlen, D.L. Varvel, G.E., Johnson, J.M-F., Baker, J.M., Osborne, S.L., Novak, J.M., Adler, P.R., Roth, G.W. and Birrell, S.J. 2011. Monitoring Soil Quality to Assess the Sustainability of Harvesting Corn Stover. Agron. J. 103:288-295.
  • Wilhelm, Wally W., Hess, J. Richard, Karlen, Douglas L., Johnson, Jane M.F., Muth, David J., Baker, John M., Gollany, Hero T., Novak, Jeff M., Stott, Diane E., and Varvel, Gary E. 2011. Review: Balancing limiting factors & economic drivers for sustainable Midwestern us agricultural residue feedstock supplies. Industrial Biotechnology 6(5): 271-287.
  • Mitchell, R.B., Wallace, L., Wilhelm, W.W., Varvel, G.E., and Wienhold, B.J. 2010. Grasslands, Rangelands, and Agricultural Systems. Ecological Applications.
  • Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. 2010. Long-term Soil Organic Carbon as Affected by Tillage and Cropping Systems. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 74:915-921.
  • Follett, Ronald F., Varvel, Gary E., Kimble, John M., and Vogel, Ken P. 2009. No-Till Corn after Bromegrass: Effect on Soil C and Soil Aggregates. Agron. J. 101:261-268.
  • Wienhold, B.J., Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. 2009. Container and Installation Time Effects on Soil Moisture and Temperature and Inorganic Nitrogen Retention for an In Situ Mineralization Method. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal., 40:2044-2057.
  • Varvel, G.E., Vogel, K.P., Mitchell, R.B., Follett, R.F., and Kimble, J.M. 2008. Comparison of Corn and Switchgrass on Marginal Soils for Bioenergy. Biomass & Bioenergy. 32:18-21.
  • Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. 2008. Soil Carbon Levels in Irrigated Western Corn Belt Rotations. Agron. J. 100:1180-1184.
  • Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. 2008. Corn Cob Biomass Production in the Western Corn Belt. Bioenergy Research. 1:223-228.
  • Varvel, G.E., Wilhelm, W.W., Shanahan, J.F., and Schepers, J.S. An Algorithm for Corn Nitrogen Recommendations Using a Chlorophyll Meter Based Sufficiency Index. Agron. J. 99:701-706. 2007.
  • Varvel, G.E. Soil Organic Carbon Changes in Diversified Rotations of the Western Corn Belt. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 70:426-433. 2006.
  • Wienhold, B.J., Pikul, J.L., Jr., Liebig, M.A., Vigil, M.F., Varvel, G.E., and Doran, J.W. Cropping System Effects on Soil Quality in the Great Plains: Summary from a Regional Project. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 21(1):49-59. 2006.
  • Varvel, G.E., Riedell, W.E., Deibert, E., McConkey, B., Tanaka, D.L., Vigil, M.F., and Schwartz, RC. Great Plains Cropping System Studies for Soil Quality Assessment. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 21(1):3-14. 2006.
  • Varvel, G.E., and Wilhelm, W.W. Soybean nitrogen contribution to corn and sorghum in two-year cropping systems in the Western Corn Belt. Agron. J. 95:1220-1225. 2003.
  • Liebig, M.A., and Varvel, G.E. Effects of Western Corn Belt cropping systems on agroecosystem functions. Agron. J. 95:316-322. 2003.
  • Liebig, M.A., Varvel, G.E., Doran, J.W. and Wienhold, B.J. 2002. Crop sequence and N fertilization effects on soil properties in the Western Corn Belt. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 66: 596-601.
  • Helmers, G.A., Yamoah, C.F., and Varvel, G.E. 2001. Separating the impacts on risk of crop diversification and rotations. Agron. J. 93:1337-1340.
  • Liebig, M.A., Varvel, G.E., and Doran, J.W. 2001. A simple performance-based index for assessing multiple agroecosystem functions. Agron. J. 93:313-318.
  • Varvel, G.E. 2000. Crop rotation and nitrogen effects on normalized grain yields in a long-term study. Agron. J. 92:938-941.