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Benjamin F. Tracy

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


Currently serving as the interim director, I also 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 4344: Forage Crop Ecology

Interim Director | 2024 – Present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Professor & Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs | 2020 – Present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Associate Professor | 2007 – 2019
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Associate Professor | 2007
Department of Crop Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana, Il.

Assistant Professor | 2001-2006
Department of Crop Sciences
University of Illinois, Urbana, Il.

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

Last 5 years, 51 total peer-reviewed publications 

  1. Greene, W., S. Hagood, B. Tracy, O. Abaye, M. Flessner. 2022. Broadleaf weed control and white clover response to florpyrauxifen-benzyl 2,4-D and common pasture herbicides. Weed Technology 36(5) 708-715. doi:10.1017/wet.2022.67
  2. Liu, J., M. Rangwala, K. Ahluwalia, S. Ghajar, H. Dhami, P. Tokekar, B. Tracy R. Williams. 2022. Intermittent Deployment for Large-Scale Multi-Robot Forage Perception: Data Synthesis, Prediction, and Planning. IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering doi: 10.1109/TASE.2022.3211873
  3. Ghajar S., J. Wagner, M. O’Rourke, B. Tracy. 2022. Evaluating methods to establish biodiverse pasturelands with native grasses and wildflowers. Native Plants Journal 23(1):65–74.
  4. Tracy, B., J. Fike, K. Brennan, T. Blackmon, S. Kaur, S. 2022. Evaluation of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) to improve animal performance in a tall fescue-based grazing system. Agronomy 12, 870.
  5. Ghajar, S., B. Tracy. 2021. Proximal sensing in grasslands and pastures. Agriculture 11, 740.
  6. Rangwala, M., J. Liu, J., K. Ahluwalia, S. Ghajar, H. Dhami, B. Tracy, P. Tokekar, P., R. Williams. 2021 DeepPaSTL: Spatio-Temporal deep learning methods for predicting long-term pasture terrains using synthetic datasets. Agronomy 11, 2245
  7. Ghajar, S., H. McKenzie, J. Fike, B. McIntosh, B. Tracy.  2020.  Evaluating digestibility and toxicity of native warm-season grasses for equines. Translational Animal Science
  8. Mercier, K., C. Teutsch, J. Fike, J. Munsell, B. Tracy, B. Strahm. 2020. Impact of increasing shade levels on the dry‐matter yield and botanical composition of multispecies forage stands. Grass Forage Science 75: 291– 302.
  9. Pent,G. S. Greiner, J. Munsell, B. Tracy, J. Fike. 2020. Lamb performance in hardwood silvopastures, I: Animal gains and forage measures in summer. Translational Animal Science 4:385–399
  10. Pent,G., S. Greiner, J. Munsell, B. Tracy, J. Fike. 2020. Lamb performance in hardwood silvopastures, II: Animal behavior in summer. Translational Animal Science 4:363–375,
  11. Tracy B., Bauer R. 2019. Evaluating mob stocking for beef cattle in a temperate grassland. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226360.
  12. Jones, G. and B. Tracy. 2019. Survey of orchardgrass persistence in the Mid-Atlantic States. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management 5:180003. doi:10.2134/cftm2018.01.0003
  13. Tracy, B., J. Foster, T. Butler, M. Islam, D. Toledo, D. J. Vendramini. 2018. Resilience in forage and grazinglands. Crop Science 58: 31-42.
  14. 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. 

Research Community Memberships