Dr. Seungki Lee’s interest in agriculture started with a small apple orchard in South Korea. Lee, whose research areas include agricultural innovation and technology adoption, is the newest addition to faculty in the department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE). He is a native of South Korea, a country where most agricultural goods are imported from other countries. His parents decided to start an apple orchard of around 1,000 trees, beginning his interest in agriculture and aiding in his decision to become an agricultural economist.
“Through my parents I was able to experience the whole process of starting a farm – purchasing land, planting trees, maintaining an irrigation system and more,” Lee said. “I became particularly interested in technology adoption and facilities, which are the second-largest investments for farms, and critical to their profitability and sustainability.”
Eventually Lee traveled to the United States and completed his PhD in Economics at Iowa State University, where he studied innovations in the U.S. corn and soybean industries. From there, AEDE’s reputation as one of the top departments for agricultural economics in the nation drew him to The Ohio State University. He also felt at Ohio State, with its rich history as a land-grant institution, he could put his research and expertise to work by helping Ohio farmers use technology and advancements in their farming practices.
“While a lot of my research has been focused on large-scale farming, my family background has also given me a deep interest in small farms,” Lee said. Since arriving in August, Lee had the opportunity to attend his first Farm Science Review, where he spent much of his time in the Small Farms Center. “It gave me a chance to learn about small farm operations in Ohio. It was a lot bigger than I expected and very well-organized. I am already looking forward to next year.”
Lee experienced Ohio farming first-hand this summer, when as part of an Ohio State University Extension’s Farm Management and Ag Law In-service, he and faculty colleagues, Dr. Zoë Plakias and Dr. Margaret Jodlowski, traveled to Coshocton County to tour farms. Lee was particularly impressed with the robotic technology that dairy farmers had adopted to milk their cows more efficiently. When talking to farmers, the main issue Lee heard them bringing up was generational transition. How do they transition their farms when they are ready to retire? What if their children are not interested in running the farm? It struck a personal chord with Lee. “When I think of farm transition, I think of my father,” he said. “I can sympathize with them.”
Currently Lee is preparing for his presentation at AEDE’s annual Agricultural Policy and Outlook conference, which will be held virtually on Nov. 18 and 19. The presentation will look at upcoming trends in corn, soybean and certain livestock markets. Lee believes his presentation will help attendees understand potential upcoming challenges and give them a better understanding of what they may need to be cautious about as it relates to factors that could impact farm profitability and the agriculture industry as a whole.
In addition to his research and outreach work, Lee is looking forward to teaching an undergraduate course on grain merchandising (AEDE 3123) this upcoming spring semester. “I really enjoy interacting with students, and they even teach me as well,” Lee said. “A lot of times the questions they ask shed a new perspective on a topic that I had not considered before.”
Click here to learn more about Lee’s expertise and research areas.
Click here to register for Lee’s session at the Agricultural Policy and Outlook conference.