Kratochvil honored as 25th winner of Miller Award at Classic
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
CENTREVILLE, Md. — Dr. Robert Kratochvil walked slowly from a seat in the back of the Pavilion at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park toward the small stage.
He had just been announced — and called forth — as the 25th winner of the Dr. James R. Miller Award, the coveted annual recognition of the Maryland Grain Producers Association.
His selection had been a carefully guarded secret and it was obvious he was attempting to process all of that.
Kratochvil, as associate professor of agronomy and Extension oil seed and grain crop specialist at the University of Maryland, said he was humbled by the award, which he called “truly a career highlight.”
A Montana farm boy, he said the most treasured aspect of his job is “working with Maryland farmers,” and noting that several of past winners of the Miller award had been retired, he assured his audience of largely farmers that retirement was not in his plans ... “not for a few years yet.”
Kratochvil was cited by MGPA President Jason Scott as “an outstanding supporter and workhorse for Maryland’s grain industry.”
Kratochvil joined the MGPUB, the agency which administers Maryland’s grain checkoff program in 2000, serving as the University of Maryland’s representative.
In that capacity, interestingly, he took the place of the late Dr. James R. Miller, the former chairman of the University of Maryland College of Agriculture, after whom the award was named.
Kratochvil, as was Dr. Miller, “has provided great input as an advisor on research needs; as a researcher to provide some of these needs, and as an educator to assist with outreach of the results from many projects.” Scott said in the award presentation.
“In 2001,” Scott continued, “we realized that the state corn variety tests were missing key varieties. Bob worked with the board to include benchmark varieties to bring meaningfulness back to the test.
“When we were looking into the option of building a barley-based ethanol plant in Maryland, Bob undertook several research projects to assess the practicalities and economics of growing hulless barley for the plant.”
Kratochvil’s valuable research on timing of fertilizer applications has found its way into Maryland Department of Agriculture nutrient management regulations and in the recognition of turbo till as an acceptable planting practice.
Kratochvil obtained his bachelor’s in plant and soil science from Montana State and his master’s and doctorate degrees in agronomy at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1994.
Today, Kratochvil relies upon his applied research program to provide much of the information he uses for his Extension programs.