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Though trials and successes, colleagues look back on Rueber’s contributions

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 11/14/2013 8:13 AM

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KANAWHA, Iowa —Farmers and research colleagues who have worked with Dave Rueber, superintendent of the Iowa State University Northern Research Farm at Kanawha, said they will miss his attention to detail, his dependability, his pleasant personality and sense of humor.

"I can't remember a time when Dave wasn't atthe farm during my tenure," said John Holmes, who retired this summer as an Extension field agronomist.

He said Rueber was known for his attention to detail and willingness to help conduct any research trial that someone wanted to do.

"I've done trials that looked at using chicken manure as a nutrient, winter application of chicken litter and using ground egg shells as a liming source," Holmes said. "Over the years, we also did trials with fungicides and insecticides. The two trials we both remember the most are the application of chicken litter on snow covered ground trial and the ground eggshell trial. We spread chicken litter on Feb. 2 and it was 10 below zero. When I asked Dave if we should reschedule, he looked at me and said, 'Is this the day we decided?' We spread chicken manure that day!"

The other major experiment he and Rueber conducted was the use of ground eggshells as a liming source. That involved spreading up to 500 pounds of eggshells per plot and weighing the materials and determining a way to spread them as easily as possible.

"We took soil samples every year on that experiment," Holmes said. "I learned that I soil sample pretty slowly compared to Dave Rueber."

Holmes said Rueber always was pleasant and very easy to work with.

"I enjoyed his unique sense of humor," he said.

Rueber was known for his dependability.

"If we specialists or university professors wanted a study done, he'd get it done accurately," Holmes said. "All we had to do is tell him what we wanted. I'll really miss Dave."

Antonio Mallarino, ISU Extension soil fertility and nutrient management specialist, said Rueber has been among the best research farm superintendents he has met in his 20 years at ISU.

"He has done an outstanding job, with excellent work quality and always volunteering to do much more work than expected for his position," Mallarino said. "Dave has made lasting contributions to research at the farm. I always sought his advice when planning for new experiments because he knew what was most relevant and needed for the region."

Mallarino said he has been able to start or continue several long-term soil fertility experiments at the farm and keep getting relevant results because of Rueber's initiative and willingness to do extra work.

"But above all, Dave has always been so friendly and has shown such a good sense of humor that the hard work at that farm has always been a great experience for me and all my graduate students," Mallarino said. "We all will miss Dave so much."

"I've always appreciated Dave's ability to be unassuming," said Dennis Schwab, a Corwith farmer and president of the North Central Research Association, which owns the Northern Research Farm and leases it to ISU.

Schwab said the research farm has benefited from Rueber's long tenure.

"Dave has been at the farm many years, and he has a long term perspective that you don't get from people who change jobs frequently, Schwab said. "That has been a real benefit to us to have someone who has stayed with our North Iowa Research Association and our Northern ISU Research Farm for years. He has a long term perspective that really benefits our local area."