A prominent dairy researcher has died at 79. Dennis Johnson of Morris spent much of his career at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center. The Center’s Director of Operations, Lee Johnston, told KMRS that Johnson was a visionary who was always supportive of younger colleagues and changed forever the way the university managed its herd of livestock.

“He made a huge shift in management of the herd and moved them outside and became very adept at grazing management and pasture management and how to make milk from grass and did that for many years,” said Johnston. “And did a lot of very good work in northern climates on pasture management and grazing management and milk production.”

Johnston said that Johnson also saw the rising tide of the organics movement and transitioned the herd a further time to get a large part of the herd certified as organic. The Research Center still gets grants and does work in the area of organic dairy production, thanks in large measure to the groundwork laid by Johnson. Friends of Dennis Johnson may visit surviving family members from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at First Lutheran Church in Morris.