Maria Bonita Villamil

Associate Professor

Dr. Villamil identifies management strategies to improve soil health and productivity in agroecosystems by addressing the societal challenge of sustainable food production. She focuses on how changes in soil health brought about by agronomic practices relate to carbon and nutrient cycling, crop production, and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Primary Disciplines


  • Ph.D.: Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — 2005
  • M.S.: Agricultural Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — 2007
  • M.S.: Agronomy, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina — 2000
  • B.S.: Agronomy, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina — 1995

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor Agronomy & Soil Health. 08/15/2016 - current
  • Assistant Professor Agronomy & Soil Health. University of Illinois. Department of Crop Sciences. 09/09/09 to 08/15/2016.

Research Interests

  • Soil Health - Metagenomics
  • Sustainable Cropping Systems - Agroecology
  • Biometry - Statistics

Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements

  • Fulbright Fellow

Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements for Teaching

  • List of teachers ranked as Excellent by their students

Chapters in Books

  • Miguez FE, MB Villamil, and D Makowski. Meta-analyses: Towards Evidence Based Research in Agronomy and Soil Sciences. Chapter 20. Soil Organic Methods. ASA, CSSA and SSSA Publisher. Madison, WI. Accepted under review.
  • Yeater K, and MB Villamil. 2017. Multivariate Methods for Agricultural Research. Chapter 18. Applied Statistics in Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences. ASA, CSSA and SSSA Publisher. Madison, WI.

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Kim, N., M.C. Zabaloy, C.W. Riggins, S. Rodriguez-Zas, and M.B. Villamil . 2020. Microbial shifts following five years of cover cropping and tillage in fertile agroecosystems. Microorganisms. 8:1773. doi:10.3390/microorganisms8111773.
  • Rymut, H.E., C.R. Bolt, M.P. Caputo, A.K. Houser, A.M. Antonson, J.D. Zimmerman, M.B. Villamil , B.R. Southey, L. Rund, R.W. Johnson, and S.L. Rodriguez-Zas. 2020. Long-lasting impact of maternal immune activation and interaction with a second immune challenge on pig behavior. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7:561151. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.561151
  • Lin, H.A., M.B. Villamil and S.X. Mideros. 2020. Characterization of Septoria brown spot disease development and yield effects on soybean in Illinois. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology: 1-11. doi:10.1080/07060661.2020.1755366.
  • Behnke, G.D., M.C. Zabaloy, C.W. Riggins, S. Rodriguez-Zas, L. Huang and M.B. Villamil. 2020. Acidification in corn monocultures favor fungi, ammonia oxidizing bacteria, and nirK-denitrifier groups. Science of The Total Environment 720: 137514. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137514.
  • Behnke, G.D., N. Kim and M.B. Villamil. 2020. Agronomic assessment of cover cropping and tillage practices across environments. Agronomy Journal: 1-16. doi:10.1002/agj2.20337.
  • Kim, N., C.W. Riggins, S. Rodriguez-Zas, M.C. Zabaloy and M.B. Villamil. 2021. Long-term residue removal under tillage decreases amoA-nitrifiers and stimulates nirS- denitrifier groups in the soil. Applied Soil Ecology 157: 103730. doi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2020.103730.
  • Kim, N., M.C. Zabaloy, K. Guan, and M.B. Villamil. 2020. Do cover crops benefit soil microbiome? A meta-analysis of current research. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 142: 107701. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107701
  • Morales, M., M. Allegrini, J. Basualdo, M.B. Villamil, and M.C. Zabaloy. 2020. Primer design to assess bacterial degradation of glyphosate and other phosphonates. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 169: 105814. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2019.105814
  • Holmes A.A., A.A. Thompson, S. Taylor Lovell, M.B. Villamil, A.C. Yannarell, J.O. Dawson, and S.E. Wortman. 2019. Nitrogen provisioned and recycled by cover crops in monoculture and mixture across two organic farms. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 115: 441-453. doi: 0.1007/s10705-019-10024-1
  • Sun, R., P. Zhang, C.W. Riggins, S. Rodriguez-Zas, M.C. Zabaloy, and M.B. Villamil. 2019. Long-term N fertilization decreased diversity and altered the composition of soil bacterial and archaeal communities. Agronomy (mdpi), 9: 574. doi:10.3390/agronomy9100574
  • Huang, L., C.W. Riggins, S. Rodriguez-Zas, M.C. Zabaloy, and M.B. Villamil. 2019. Long-term N fertilization imbalances potential N acquisition and transformations by soil microbes. Science of the Total Environment, 691:562-571. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.154
  • Behnke, G.D., and M.B. Villamil. 2019. Cover crop rotations affect greenhouse gas emissions and crop production in Illinois, USA. Field Crops Research, 241: 107580. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2019.107580.
  • Wang, Y., M.B. Villamil, P.C. Davidson, and N. Akdeniz. 2019. A quantitative understanding of the role of co-composted biochar in plant growth using meta-analysis. Science of the Total Environment, 685: 741-752. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.244
  • M.B. Villamil, E.D. Nafziger, and G.D. Behnke. 2019. New grain P and K concentration values for Illinois field crops. Crop, Forage, and Turfgrass Management, 5(1). doi:10.2134/cftm2018.11.0090
  • Yuan M, KD Greer, ED Nafziger, MB Villamil, CM. Pittelkow. 2018. Soil N2O emissions as affected by long-term residue removal and no-till practices in continuous corn. GCB Bioenergy, 10: 972-985. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12564
  • Graham R, KD Greer, MB Villamil, ED Nafziger, and CM Pittelkow. 2018. Enhanced efficiency fertilizer impacts on yield-scaled nitrous oxide emissions in maize. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 82: 1469-1481. doi:10.2136/sssaj2018.05.0196/sssaj2018.05.0196
  • Shelby RJ, MB Villamil, KA Ames, and CA Bradley. 2018. Effects of pyraclostrobin foliar fungicide, corn hybrid, and harvest timing on stalk health of corn. Crop, Forage, Turfgrass Management, 4: 1-5. doi:10.2134/cftm2018.02.0006
  • Behnke GD, CM Pittelkow, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2018. Exploring the relationships among greenhouse gas emissions, crop yields, and soil properties in cropping systems. Agriculture, 8, 62. Doi 10.3390/agriculture8050062.
  • Zuber S, GD Behnke, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2018. Carbon and nitrogen content of soil organic matter and microbial biomass under long-term crop rotation and tillage in Illinois, USA. Agriculture. 8, 37. Doi 10.3390/agriculture8030037.
  • Hoss M, GD Behnke, AS Davis, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2018. Short corn rotations do not improve soil quality, compared to corn monocultures. Agron. J., 110:1274-1288. doi:10.2134/agronj2017.11.0633
  • Behnke GD, SM Zuber, CM Pittelkow, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2018. Long term crop rotation and tillage effects on greenhouse gas emissions, soil properties, and crop production in Illinois. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 261:62-70. doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2018.03.007
  • Chu M, J Guzman, and MB Villamil. 2018. Impacts of climate variability on SOC and N cycling under corn-based rotations in IL. J. Environ. Qual. 47:596-606. Doi 10.2134/jeq2017.07.0295.
  • Schmidt E, NM Amiotti, and MB Villamil. 2018. Soil quality under conservation practices on farm operations of the southern semiarid pampas region of Argentina. Soil Till. Res.176: 85-94. Doi 10.1016/j.still.2017.11.001
  • Daigh A, W Dick, M Helmers, R Lal, J Lauer, E Nafziger, C Pederson, J Strock, MB Villamil, A Mukherjee, and R. Cruse. 2017. Yields and yield stability of no-till and chisel-plow fields in the Midwestern US Corn Belt. Field Crops Res. 218, 243-253. Doi 10.1016/j.fcr.2017.04.002
  • Zuber S, G Behnke, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2017. Multivariate assessment of soil quality indicators for crop rotation and tillage in Illinois. Soil Till. Res. 174:147-155. Doi 10.1016/j.still.2017.07.007
  • Dozier IA, G Behnke, A Davis, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2017. Tillage and cover cropping effects on soil properties in Illinois. Agron. J. 109:1-10. Doi 10.2134/agronj2016.10.0613
  • Bishop J, S Kim, MB Villamil, DK Lee, and L Rayburn. 2017. Meiotic pairing as an indicator of genome composition in polyploid prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link). Genetica (GENE) 145, 235-240. Doi 10.1007/s10709-017-9955-0
  • Zuber SM, and MB Villamil. 2016. Meta-analysis approach to assess effect of tillage on microbial biomass and enzyme activities. Soil Biol. Biochem. 97: 176-187. Doi 10.1016/j.soilbio.2016.03.011
  • Welch RY, GB Behnke, AS Davis, J Masiunas and MB Villamil. 2016. Using cover crops in headlands of organic grain farms: Effects on soil properties, weeds and crop yields. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 216: 322-332. Doi 10.1016/j.agee.2015.10.014
  • Nafziger ED, MB Villamil, F. Iutzi, J Niekamp, and V. Davis. 2016. Bioenergy yields of several cropping systems in the U.S. Corn Belt. Agron. J. 108: 559-565. Doi 10.2134/agronj2015.0203
  • Villamil MB, J Little, ED Nafziger. 2015. Corn residue, tillage, and nitrogen rate effects on soil properties. Soil Till. Res. 151: 61-66. Doi 10.1016/j.still.2015.03.005
  • Villamil MB, and ED Nafziger. 2015. Corn residue, tillage, and nitrogen rate effects on soil carbon and nutrient stocks in Illinois. Geoderma 253-254, 61-66. Doi 10.1016/j.geoderma.2015.04.002
  • Fernandez F, B Sorensen and MB Villamil. 2015. A comparison of soil properties in long-term no-till and strip-till systems. Agron. J. 107: 1339-1346. Doi 10.2134/agronj14.0549
  • Zuber SM, GD Behnke, ED Nafziger, and MB Villamil. 2015. Crop rotation and tillage effects on soil physical and chemical properties in Illinois. Agron. J. 107: 1-8. Doi 10.2134/agronj14.0465.
  • Davis VM, NE Mellendorf, MB Villamil, ED Nafziger. 2015. Initial plant size affects response to thinning in soybean. Agron. J. 107:158-166. Doi 10.2134/agronj13.0599.
  • Marzano SL, D Eastburn, M Wander, C Ugarte, and MB Villamil. 2015. Organic transition effects on soilborne diseases of soybean and populations of Pseudomonadaceae. Agron. J. 107: 1087-1097. Doi 10.2134/agronj2013.0189
  • Necpálová M, RP Anex, AN Kravchenko, LJ Abendroth, SJ Del Grosso, WA Dick, MJ Helmers, D Herzmann, JG Lauer, ED Nafziger, JE Sawyer, PC Scharf, JS Strock, and MB Villamil. 2014. What does it take to detect a change in soil carbon stock? A regional comparison of minimum detectable difference and experiment duration in the north central United States. J. Soil Water Conserv. 69: 517-531. Doi 10.2489/jswc.69.6.517.
  • Kladivko EJ, MJ Helmers, LJ Abendroth, D Herzmann, R Lal, MJ Castellano, DS Mueller, JE Sawyer, RP Anex, RW Arritt, B Basso, JV Bonta, LC Bowling, RM Cruse, NR Fausey, JR Frankenberger, PW Gassman, AJ Gassmann, CL Kling, A Kravchenko, JG Lauer, FE Miguez, ED Nafziger, N Nkongolo, M O'Neal, LB Owens, PR Owens, P Scharf, MJ Shipitalo, JS Strock, and MB Villamil. 2014. Standardized research protocols enable transdisciplinary research of climate variation impacts in corn production systems. J. Soil Water Conserv. 69: 532-542. Doi 10.2489/jswc.69.6.532.
  • Suarez Tapia A, MB Villamil, and L Grabau. 2014. Evaluation of N sources, cover crops, and tillage systems for corn grown under organic management. Phyton 83: 71-81.://WOS:000349881600010
  • Acuna JCM, and MB Villamil. 2014. Short term effects of cover crops and compaction on soil properties and soybean production in Illinois. Agron. J. 106:860-870. Doi 10.2134/agronj13.0370.
  • Marzano SL, D Eastburn, M Wander, C Ugarte, E Zaborski, and MB Villamil. 2014. Transitional cropping systems and organic amendment effects on crop diseases. Agron. J. 106: 519-527. Doi 10.2134/agronj2013.0189.
  • Villamil MB, M Alexander, A Heinze-Silvis, and M Gray. 2012. Producer perceptions and information needs regarding their adoption of bioenergy crops. Renew. Sust. Energ. Rev.16: 3604-3612. Doi 10.1016/j.rser.2012.03.033.
  • Villamil MB, V Davis, and ED Nafziger. 2012. Estimating factor contributions to soybean yield from farm field data. Agron. J. 104:881-887. Doi 10.2134/agronj2012.0018n.
  • Amiotti NM, MB Villamil, and RG Darmody. 2012. Agronomic and taxonomic consequences of agricultural use of marginal soils in Argentina. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 76: 2, 558-568. Doi 10.2136/sssaj2011.0306
  • Lee CH, Kim SY, MB Villamil, P Pramanik, CO Hongand, and PJ Kim. 2011. Different response of silicate fertilizer having electron acceptors on methane emission in rice paddy soil under green manuring. Biol. Fert. Soils. (26 November 2011), pp. 1-8. Doi 10.1007/s00374-011-0637-2
  • Villamil MB, NM Amiotti, and N Peinemann. 2011. Segregation of patches by patterns of soil attributes in native grassland in central Argentina. Phyton 80. 193-201. ://WOS:000299301200029
  • Villamil MB, FE Miguez, and GA Bollero. 2008. Multivariate Analysis and Visualization of Soil Quality Data for No-Till Systems. J. Environ. Qual. 37: 1-7. Doi 10.2134/Jeq2007.0349
  • Miguez FE, MB Villamil, GA Bollero, and SP Long. 2008. Meta-Analysis of Management Factors Effects on Miscanthus × giganteus Growth and Productivity. Agr. Forest Meteorol. 148: 1280-1292. Doi 10.1016/j.agrformet.2008.03.010
  • Villamil MB, A Heinze-Silvis, and GA Bollero. 2008. Potential Miscanthus’ Adoption in Illinois: Information Needs and Preferred Information Channels. Biomass Bioenerg. 32: 1338-1348. Doi 10.1016/j.biombioe.2008.04.002
  • Villamil MB, GA Bollero, RG Darmody, FW Simmons, and DG Bullock. 2006. No-Till Corn/Soybean Systems Including Winter Cover Crops: Effects on Soil Properties. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 70: 1936-1944. Doi 10.2136/sssaj2005.0350

Other Publications

  • Villamil, M.B., and E. Nafziger. 2020. Soil quality following 12 years of corn monocultures and short rotations, Mendeley Data, v1,
  • Villamil, M.B., and E. Nafziger. 2020. NPK Survey of Field Crops 2014-2017, Mendeley Data, v1.
  • Villamil, M.B., and E. Nafziger. 2019. Agronomic and Environmental Assessment of Cover Crops Project Data, Mendeley Data, v1.
  • Abendroth L. et al. 2017. Sustainable Corn CAP Research Data (USDA-NIFA Award No. 2011-68002-30190). National Agricultural Library -ARS-USDA. Published Data set