A. Ozzie Abaye



Ph.D., Agronomy, Virginia Tech, 1992

M.S., Animal and Dairy Science, Penn State, 1986

B.S., Physical and Life Sciences, Wilson College, 1984


2011 – Present – Professor, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.  Duties: 30% Extension, 70% Teaching

1998 - 2011 - Associate Professor, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.  Duties: 30% Extension, 70% Teaching

1993 - 1998 - Assistant Professor, Department of  Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.  Duties: 30% Extension, 70% Teaching

1987 - 1992 - Teaching and Research Assistant, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

1984 - 1986 - Teaching Assistant, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa.

1986 - Research Assistant, Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa.


Link to curriculum vita

Courses Taught

  • CSES 1004 - Introduction to CSES
  • CSES 1054 - Introduction to CSES lab
  • CSES 2434 - Crop Evaluation
  • CSES 2444 - Agronomic Crops
  • CSES 3444 - World Crops and Cropping Systems
  • CSES/ENSC 3644 - Plant Materials for Environmental Restoration
  • CSES 4544 - Forage Crop Ecology

Other Teaching and Advising

  • While I find teaching undergraduates extremely rewarding, the aspect of my position that I prize most is my interaction with advisees. Success in academic advising relies on developing a strong, mutually respectful relationship between student and advisor. As an advisor, I strive to foster independence and personal responsibility. I encourage students to explore studies abroad and have been actively involved in developing such programs. I have led trips to Ghana and South Africa. The goal is to expose students to experiences that make them productive in a global society.
  • I “coach” Virginia Tech’s Crops Judging Team. The Team gives students experience in evaluating seed and grain quality and in identifying crops, weeds, and crop diseases. The team has won several regional and national contests (major wins in 1993 and 2005).
  • Advisor to Agronomy Club.

Program Focus

The research focus, which strongly supports my extension efforts, has been on alternative crops and incorporation of animals into sustainable systems. As part of that research effort, I have trained over 15 M.S. and Ph.D. students – some in collaboration with senior faculty and others under my sole tutelage.

Role of Graduate Students

Graduate students are an important part of both my research and teaching programs. I cherish the opportunity to work and interact with them. Additionally, graduate students are encouraged to become involved with teaching as much as possible, since I strongly believe teaching is the best source and instrument of learning.  

Future Research

  • Assessing the potential use of Teff as an alternative grain crop in Virginia. Graduate student: Jennifer Coleman
  • Assessment of stockpiling methods to increase late summer/early fall/summer forage biomass. Graduate student : Amber Hickman.
  • Grazing Appalachian Pastures with Goats: Effects on Pasture Quality, Browse Species Control, and Animal Performance. Undergraduate student–Pratt: Nathaniel Foust-Meyer

International Research

Capacity Building for Agricultural Education and Research Project (CBAER) USAID - Senegal

Extension Program

  • Evaluation of alternative crops (cotton, sorghum, durum wheat) and forages (teff, prairie grasses, legumes, cool-season grasses) for biomass yield and quality. Particular interest in forages that are more drought tolerant and provide feed for livestock in a short period of time (e.g., teff).
  • Invasive species control using goats. Research site: Powell River Project site, Wise County as well as in East and West Africa.
  • Assessing the potential of co-grazing small ruminants with beef cattle to improve animal performance and increase the utilization of marginal pasturelands.
  • Outreach/international: For the last 12 years, have been involved in West Africa Regional Project through Office of International Research, Education, and Development’s Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program (SANREM CRSP).
    • Currently involved in rice project in West Africa – through African Food Security Initiative (AFSI)- Quality Food Production, Availability and Marketing Project.

Order form for Identification and Adaptation of Common Grasses, Legumes and Non-leguminous Forbs of the Eastern United States book

Extension Philosophy

Virginia Cooperative Extension has undergone a transformation in response to new challenges and opportunities. Environmental issues and a demand for alternative crops have created the need for information and services not provided in the past. Therefore, any Extension program needs to meet these new requirements.

My program emphasizes developing and maintaining a strong working relationship with Extension agents. As an alternative crop specialist, I have worked with commodities such as cotton, durum wheat, forage species, sorghum, and lupine. From 1995-2000, a large part of my Extension program was devoted to cotton and durum wheat. Although cotton is not new to Virginia, the introduction of short-season varieties and the eradication of the boll weevil have permitted cotton to once again become a major crop.

Environmental concerns and global climate change are creating demand for crops that are drought tolerant and perform well under low inputs. From 2000 to 2010 I have worked on various alternative forage species that would fill production gaps created by the low productivity of cool-season grasses during hot weather and water shortages. In 2007, which was one of the driest years on record in Virginia, many cattle producers were forced to buy supplemental feed or sell stock early, which greatly diminished any hope of profitability. To reduce this risk, producers can diversify their pastures with more heat- and drought-tolerant species. Teff (Erogrostis tef) is such a species.

Ozzie Abaye
  • (540) 231-9737
  • cotton@vt.edu
  • 185 Ag Quad Lane
    245 Smyth Hall
    Blacksburg, VA