Honors Gallery

2011 Laboratory Director of the Year Southeast

Award: Laboratory Director of the Year

Year: 2011

Award Type:

Region: Southeast

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) – Southeast Area

The mission of the Coastal Plains Soil and Water Conservation Center in Florence, South Carolina, is to anticipate, identify, and solve agricultural natural resource problems that are important to the United States in general and the Southeastern Coastal Plain in particular. Dr. Patrick Hunt has been Center Director since 1976, and throughout his tenure his vision and contributions to research projects have ensured progress and mission impact.

Dr. Hunt contributed to and transferred technology for improved agricultural productivity and enhanced resource-sustainability in the U.S. and worldwide. His extensive accomplishments have been obtained through leadership of coordinated team research that involved synergistic cooperation among scientists, engineers, policymakers, and agribusiness. For more than 30 years, he and his colleagues have developed and transferred new concepts, theories, and technologies. He has been engaged in numerous tasks that involved advice and consultation based on his research and outreach throughout the U.S. and in countries such as Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and Russia.

Most recently under Dr. Hunt’s leadership, a team of scientists at the Center and business cooperators developed a new wastewater treatment system that is a cost-effective alternative to swine lagoons. The development was a successful part of an agreement between the Attorney General of North Carolina and Smithfield Foods to replace current lagoons with environmentally superior technology (EST). An EST simultaneously addresses problems of ammonia emissions, excess nutrients, pathogens and food safety, odors, heavy metals, and affordability of treatment. Development of the lower-cost EST was well-received by the public, swine producers, environmentalists, and policymakers. The technology is being recognized worldwide for its impact on engineering, biotechnology, animal science, food safety, and climate change. It is currently being licensed and commercialized by Terra Blue, LLC, which acquired foreign rights for China, the European Union, Brazil, Canada and Mexico in 2010.