Dr. Locke began his career with USDA-ARS in 1987, as a post-doctoral research associate (soil scientist) in the USDA-ARS, Southern Weed Science Research Unit (SWSRU), Stoneville, MS. He joined SWSRU as a permanent Category I soil scientist in 1989, and became research leader for SWSRU in 1996. He served as SWSRU research leader until July 2003, when he assumed leadership of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit (WQERU) in the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL), Oxford, MS. A native of Missouri, Dr. Locke received a Ph.D. in Agronomy (emphasis in soil science) from Texas A&M University (1987) and a M.S. in Agronomy (soil science emphasis) from the University of Missouri (1984). B.S. degrees were received from Southwest Missouri State University (Business, 1976; General Agriculture, 1982).
Early career research focused on evaluating how conservation management practices affect herbicide dissipation in soil. He received an award in 1993 as the Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of the Mid South Area. He has authored over 95 technical peer-reviewed publications, has presented results at regional, national, and international meetings, and is recognized as an authority on environmental aspects of conservation management. Dr. Locke was active as a leader in the regional Management System Evaluation Areas project (MD-MSEA) to evaluate changes in soil and water resources due to best management practices on a watershed scale. Some of this work was featured in the USDA-ARS Agriculture Research Magazine (Mississippi Delta MSEA, June 1999) (Improved Land-Management Practices Protect Watershed Lakes, October 2002) (Clean Waters and Agriculture: We Can Have It Both Ways!, August 2006)
Dr. Locke has applied his environmental research experience in assessing the value and impact of conservation management systems and edge-of-field practices, emphasizing impacts of these management practices on fate of agrichemicals and protection and enhancement of soil and water resources. Research issues relate to topics of regional and national importance, including Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and evaluations of conservation management practices related to the national USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP) Conservation: are we getting our money's worth?.
- Critically assessing effects of management and conservation practices on biological, chemical, and physical parameters in soil and water.
- Determining interactions among management effects and factors influencing degradation, sorption and movement, and microbial degradation pathways for agrochemicals such as pesticides and nutrients and developing new technology for improving soil and water resources.
- Developing and improving management strategies to minimize non-target agricultural contamination by agrochemicals in watershed systems and restore TMDL paired water bodies.