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Students drive the ag research at BYU – Idaho

Progressive Forage Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 31 July 2013

The first university student I visited with at the 36th Annual Small Grains and Forages Field Day at BYU – Idaho did not have an ag background but nonetheless had chosen agriculture as his profession.

With one semester remaining before graduation, his plan was to return to Arizona with a degree in-hand and a job waiting for him at a fertilizer company where he had interned. This student later assisted in a field-day alfalfa presentation regarding the research conducted through the agronomy department.

In all, about fifteen students gave presentations about research conducted at the university – including alfalfa variety trails (looking for fertility and nodulation), seeding and stand trials, spray trials, and winterkill trials at the annual field day.

Other research trials and presentations involved variable rate irrigation and variable frequency drive irrigation in small grains, seed treatments, planting rates, rotation and tillage, as well as potato fertility studies with nitrogen applications.

Agronomy students (in collaboration with the University of Idaho Extension, the Idaho Wheat Commission and General Mills) conducted the faculty-mentored research, provided the labor, and presented the results to a crowd of about 175 people at the annual event.

In addition to improving student communication skills, the program helps young farmers understand strong leadership principles and obtain training and research opportunities.

Producers reaped the windfall of those efforts by being able to ask questions pertinent to their individual farms and crops, and explore new products and methods to an age-old profession.

We’re in a new era for agriculture. Consider that 62 percent of those present at the field day report having a Facebook presence and 42 percent use an iPhone. Sixty-nine percent of the attendees came not to just network with peers but to learn specifically about the research.

As we move into this new era, young entrepreneurs will be vital. Programs and research, such as those presented at the field day by young farmers, that drive food and agricultural development are integral to the future of the industry.  FG

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