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Benjamin F. Tracy

Professor/Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs
Dr. Ben Tracy
185 Ag Quad Lane
335 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia


I have a three-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences covering 50% research, 30% teaching and 20% extension.  The foundation of my research program has been about managing plant diversity in forage-livestock systems to improve their productivity.  I currently teach three courses within the School, and have a small extension program focused on diversifying forage-livestock systems with native prairie grasses.


  • Plant Production Systems
  • Forage and Crop Ecology


  • Ph.D. Ecology, Syracuse University, 1996
  • M.S. Environmental Pollution Control, Penn State University, 1988  
  • B.A. Biology, Rutgers University, 1986

One of the central themes of my research seeks to understand how we can better manage plant diversity to improve productivity and sustainability of forage-livestock systems in the eastern United States.  Among several on-going projects, my research group is exploring ways to integrate native prairie grasses and wildflowers together to create biodiverse pasturelands that will improve beef cattle production and increase bee populations for pollination services.

  • CSES 2444: Agronomic Crops
  • CSES 4354: Advanced Agronomic Crops
  • CSES 5214: Soil and Plant Relationships

Associate Professor | 2007 – present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech and Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

Assistant Professor | 2000-2006
Department of Crop Sciences
University of Illinois. Urbana, IL.

Ecologist | 1997-2000
USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Unit
University Park, PA.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence. Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 2016/17

Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Students. University of Illinois, 2005, 2006.

Outstanding Instructor Award. Field and Furrow Club. Department of Crop Sciences Department of University of Illinois, 2005

Outstanding or Innovative Extension Program. Team Award for Dudley Smith Initiative.  University of Illinois Extension, 2005

  1. Tracy, B. and R. Bauer. 2019. Evaluation of mob-type stocking methods in Virginia. Crop Science (accepted pending revision)
  2. Tracy, B., J. Foster, T. Butler, M. Islam, D. Toledo, and J. Vendramini. 2018. Resilience in forage and grazinglands. Crop Science. 58:31-42.
  3. Jones, G. and B. Tracy. 2018. Persistence and productivity of orchardgrass and orchardgrass/alfalfa mixtures as affected by cutting height. Grass and Forage Science. 73:544–552.
  4. Tracy, B., K. Albrecht, J. Flores, M. Hall, A. Islam, G. Jones, W. Lamp, J. MacAdam, H. Skinner, C. Teutsch. 2016. Evaluation of alfalfa-tall fescue mixtures across multiple environments. Crop Science 56:2026-2034.
  5. Tracy, B., D. Schlueter, J. Flores. 2015. Conditions that favor clover establishment in permanent grass swards. Grassland Science. 61:34-40.
  6. Isbell, F., D. Craven J. Connolly, M. Loreau, B. Schmid, C. Beierkuhnlein, T. Bezemer, C Bonin*; H Bruelheide, E. de Luca, A. Ebeling, N. Eisenhauer, J.Griffin, Q. Guo, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, A. Jentsch, J. Kreyling, V. Lanta, P. Manning, S. Meyer, A. Mori, K. Mueller, S. Naeem, P. Niklaus, H. Polley, P. Reich, C. Roscher, E. Seabloom, M. Smith, Madhav P. Thakur, D. Tilman, B. Tracy, W. van der Putten, J. van Ruijven, A. Weigelt, W.W. Weisser, B. Wilsey.  2015. Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes. Nature 526:574-577.
  7. Bonin, C., Lal R, B. Tracy.  2014. Evaluation of perennial warm-season grass mixtures managed for grazing or biomass production. Crop Science 54: 2373-2385.
  8. Bonin, C., and B. Tracy. 2012. Diversity influences forage yield and stability in perennial prairie plant mixtures. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 162:1-7.
  9. Tracy, B., M. Maughan, N. Post, D. Faulkner. 2010. Integrating annual and perennial warm-season grasses in a temperate grazing system. Crop Science. 50:2171–2177.
  10. Renne, I. and B. Tracy.  2007. Disturbance persistence in managed grasslands: shifts in aboveground community structure and the weed seed bank. Plant Ecology 190:71-80.
  11. Renne, I., B. Tracy, I. Colonna. 2006. Shifts in grassland invasibility: effects of soil resources, disturbance, composition, and invader size. Ecology 87: 2264-2277.
  12. Tracy, B. and D. Faulkner.  2006.  Pasture and cattle responses in rotationally stocked grazing systems sown with differing levels of species richness.  Crop Science 46:2062-2068.
  13. Tracy, B. and I. Renne. 2005. Re- infestation of endophtye-infected tall fescue (E+) in renovated endophyte-free (E) pastures under rotational stocking. Agronomy Journal 97:1473-1477.
  14. Tracy, B. and M. Sanderson. 2004. Relationships between forage plant diversity and weed invasion in pasture communitiesAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 102:175-183.
  15. Tracy, B. and M. Sanderson. 2004.  Productivity and stability relationships in mowed pastures of varying species composition. Crop Science 44: 2180-2186.
  16. Sanderson, M., R. Skinner, D. Barker, G. Edwards, B. Tracy, D. Wedin. 2004.  Plant species diversity and management of temperate forage and grazing land ecosystems. Crop Science 44:1132-1144.
  17. Tracy, B., I. Renne, J. Gerrish, M. Sanderson.  2004.  Effects of plant diversity on invasion of weed species in experimental pasture communities. Basic Applied Ecology 5: 543-550.
  18. Tracy, B. and M. Sanderson. 2000.  Seed bank diversity in pastures of the northeast United States. Journal of Range Management 53:114-118.
  19. Tracy, B. and M. Sanderson.  2000.  Patterns of plant species richness in pasture lands of the northeast United States. Plant Ecology 149:169- 180.
  20. Frank D., S. McNaughton, B. Tracy. 1998.  The ecology of the earth’s grazing ecosystems.  Bioscience 48:513-521.
  21. Tracy B. and D. Frank. 1998.  Herbivore influence on soil microbial biomass and nitrogen mineralization in a northern grassland ecosystem: Yellowstone National Park. Oecologia 114:556-562.

Research Community Memberships