Ward splits time between research, teaching and Extension, and his team covers the full range of production agriculture from moisture sensors in greenhouses to precision ag in commodity crops to a robotic platform supporting pasture animals.
Ward’s program addresses areas of research focusing on quantifying crop lodging damage and automating cotton replant decisions using UAS imagery. In addition to his UAS program, Ward is completing research in mapping sub-field cotton fiber quality for each cotton module sent to the cotton gin, utilizing machine data to improve harvest efficiency, and utilizing robotic systems to improve quality for pasture animals.
At NCSU, Ward led the effort to renovate and develop laboratory space focused solely on Digital Agriculture where faculty can work in both the applied and theoretical digital ag space to create and evaluate technologies. The Suggs Lab for Machinery Systems and Precision Agriculture is a large-scale machinery and small UAS showplace for on-campus tours, external visitors, and Extension agent trainings.
Dr. Ward is active in national and international societies, including membership in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), ASABE NC Section, Alpha Epsilon Engineering Honor Society, and International Society of Precision Agriculture. He was named ASABE Machinery Systems Technical Community Outstanding Reviewer in 2015, Food and Process Systems Technical Community Outstanding Reviewer in 2014, and New Faces of Engineering in 2010.