About us

A major focus of the University of Illinois Field Crops Research & Extension Program is exploring ways to advance the productivity and environmental performance of row-crop systems in Illinois and the upper Midwest. To do it, our team takes an interdisciplinary approach to document and understand the implications of a variety of in-field conservation practices (e.g., 4R nutrient stewardship, cover cropping, and conservation tillage) on crop productivity and profitability, soil and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and nutrient losses. This knowledge is then integrated and delivered through our Extension program.

Dr. Giovani Preza Fontes
Assistant Professor & Field Crops Extension Agronomist

Address: AW-101 Turner Hall, MC-046, 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217-244-0541
Email: giovani3@illinois.edu

Kristin Greer
Senior Research Specialist

Kristin has worked in the field of soil fertility and crop production for over twenty years. She is a University of Illinois graduate, managing field research experiments and day-to-day field crops lab operations in coordination with graduate students and other lab members to ensure project goals are efficiently and timely. Outside work, she farms approximately 600 acres of corn and soybeans with her husband.

Dr. Francisco Valenzuela
Post-doc Scholar

Francisco received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences, focusing on horticulture at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile (2006). He earned his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at the same university (2008). After some work at the Instituto de Investigaciones (INIA) Chile, he moved to California where he pursued a Ph.D. degree in Horticulture and Agronomy at the University of California Davis (2018). Francisco’s current studies are focused on crop physiological responses under high metal concentrations in war zones and field evaluation of NUE in corn using 15N isotopic approach.

Graduate Students

Marcos Bonini Pires
M.S. student

I am a master’s student in the Department of Crop Science focusing on the study of cover crops. I got my bachelor’s degree in Agronomic Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil (2023). I was a research scholar at the Soil Microbial Agroecology Lab at Kansas State University (2022-2023). My main topics of interest are the stability of soil aggregates, soil organic matter fractionation, and agriculture techniques (such as cover crops use, no-till, and organic fertilizer) to improve soil health in agriculture. My hobbies include camping, hiking, playing soccer, and photography.

Visiting Scholars

Nathalia Guzman
Period: January – November 2024

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Development Engineering from Zamorano University. Since fall 2023, I have been a visiting scholar, diving deep into soil conservation, soil health, and how agriculture affects greenhouse gas emissions. I am interested in finding that connection between agriculture and sustainability, applying the knowledge acquired during my time at UIUC and B.S.

Federico Rolle
Period: March – November 2024

I am an Agronomist who graduated from the National University of Rosario in Argentina. His passion for agriculture started at a young age, as his family has been involved in agricultural production for many years. During his internship, his primary motivation is to consolidate knowledge on how to improve crop performance while strengthening sustainability in environmental, economic, and social terms. Federico is particularly interested in soil health preservation, conservation tillage, crop nutritional management, and the use of digital tools that make decision-making more efficient.

Gideon Ghartey
Period: February- November 2024

I am Gideon Ghartey. I have a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture (Crop Science) from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. The dynamic nature of agriculture constantly presents new challenges and opportunities for innovation, which excites me. Whether adopting advanced technologies to improve efficiency or implementing environmentally friendly practices to promote conservation.
During this internship, I am committed to exploring ways to enhance crop productivity while preserving our natural resources through soil management practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, and organic amendments that improve nutrient availability.

José Guilherme Danziato
Period: February- November 2024

I’m José Guilherme Danziato. I’m an Agronomist from Brazil who graduated from Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in 2022. As a visiting scholar, I look forward to increasing my knowledge in agricultural research and contributing to the team. I’ve worked with research in the area of soil fertility and cropping systems since my undergrad. My passion in Agriculture is to improve production with sustainability and technology. My main interest topics are plant nutrition, soil management, spray technology, and digital agriculture. In my free time, I like to play soccer, do some exercises, play games, and visit natural places like waterfalls and mountains.


Andrea Lainez, Zamorano University, Honduras.
Makenna Green, Kansas State University, USA.