Tuesday, September 16, 2014

First ambassador meeting of the year!

Hi all,

I just wanted to give everyone a look into a typical (the first this year) ambassador meeting! 

Until next time!

-Kole Kamman

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello all, I hope everyone’s summer was as great as mine! I was an agronomy sales and marketing intern with Helena Chemical Company out of Eastern Illinois. Helena is an ag retail supplier. They sell seed, fertilizer, chemicals and other crop protectant products. On top of that, Helena has a wide variety of proprietary products that are produced by Helena themselves.
This summer I did a little bit of everything. I rode with several different Helena salespeople each week for the entire summer. On those rides we would either be out on a customer complaint, checking fields to see if they were able to be sprayed, if the product we applied was working, and to talk to growers. This opened my eyes to the ag retail side and how dependent and trusting customers are to their salespeople. This summer I also did a fair share of scouting and tissue sampling. It was fun to apply what I learned the spring semester in my plant pathology and weed science classes to real life experiences when scouting.
Throughout the three months I worked for Helena I was given a project to create a Helena proprietary high yield soybean program. For this, I identified and worked with 2 growers on about 175 acres where we implemented a high yielding plan. This included two applications of 4 different Helena products that would help reduce stress, promote flowering, provide a nutritional, or was a plant growth regulator. These trails will be taken to yield in the fall to see any benefits that the application may have provided.

            Working for Helena was a great experience. I received a large amount of hands on training from the guys I worked with and from many different field days I attended. This internship allowed me to get a feel for many different pieces of the agriculture industry whether it was sales, agronomy, marketing, or custom application.

--Kathryn Graf

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Indiana Summer

Greeting, all!

Here's to the end of a great summer and the beginning of an even better school year. As I reflect back on my summer experiences I am overwhelmed by all the basic agriculture practices I learned (for instance, driving a tractor).

I spent my summer working within the Agronomy department with Dr. Keith Johnson, a forage specialist and an extension educator. He is part of a much bigger research project headed by CenUSA bioenergy. The idea of the project is to test three different types of native prairie grasses (switchgrass, indiangrass, and big bluestem) for success in marginal land settings. Grasses were chosen for this project based on their potential for bioenergy use. As you can imagine, West Lafayette and the majority of surrounding areas aren't necessarily considered "marginal" land. This being said, a lot of my summer with Dr. Johnson was spent the traveling to our destinations. We had plots in Peru, Trafalgar, and Oakland City, Indiana.

Each location had it's identifier that made it qualify as "marginal land", but the most interesting one (being an environmental scientist) was in Oakland City. It is located north of Evansville on a farm who's land we're renting for the project. Across the street from the grass plot is a working coal mine. HOW COOL! (well not really, but you know what I mean). The irony of growing bioenergy grasses across from a working coal mine is something else.

A photo of the truck at the plots during planting with the coal mine in the background

Now for a little bit about my role in the research. I was Dr. Johnson's right hand girl, helping with planting, fertilizing and spraying herbicide, plot care, data collection and recording, and most importantly, observing and learning the process. One thing I learned this summer, and in my personal opinion, is that not many people out there are as dedicated and will work as hard as a farmer, especially Dr. Johnson. Work wasn't always easy, especially with the hot dusty weather we experienced in Oakland City. Another lesson is that no matter how long it takes, always do something right. We worked in Oakland city from sun up to sun down delineating plots, calibrating the seeder, sowing the seed, and even sowing a specific variety twice to make sure it was done right. 

Overall this summer was nothing short of awesome. I hope to aid in the harvest process this fall to further my experience and see the cycle completed. 
My advice to all who read this is to never pass up an opportunity to learn. 

Sending good wishes for new school year and am looking forward to serving as an Agronomy/NRES Ambassador!!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Australia to Indiana

This is my first time posting as an Agronomy Ambassador, but I am not a new Agronomy Ambassador. My name is Daniel Sweeney and I am a senior in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology and have been an Ambassador since my sophomore year. I manage to stay pretty busy on campus between being an Agronomy Ambassador and involvement in College of Agriculture Ambassadors, Ag Week Task Force, Agronomy Club, Old Masters, my fraternity, undergraduate research, and Mortarboard leadership honorary. Not to mention applying for graduate school and being on the Homecoming Court this fall! Last semester I decided to take a bit of a break and take a semester to study abroad at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.  I had never been overseas before so traveling to Australia for five months was a completely new endeavor for me. I would not trade my experience in Australia for anything; I experienced a totally new level of independence, met incredible people from all over the world, and witnessed some of the most beautiful places on Earth. I chose the University of Adelaide for the quality of its agriculture program and took some very interesting courses. My plant health course looked at integrated pest management and offered a different take on pest control than I had received previously. I also took a wine science course which was fascinating. The area around Adelaide is home to some of the finest wine producing regions in Australia and the world. My class covered viticulture, wine making, and sensory evaluation (tasting). It was a bit of a change to learn about a crop that produces a higher quality product in stony sloped ground and where low yield is desirable, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a new facet of agriculture. Wheat and barley are the two major row crops grown in the state of South Australia; canola is more prevalent across Victoria and pastureland is ubiquitous to the country. Aussie cropping systems are very different than Midwestern cropping systems but they do share some similarities. South Australia is the driest state on the driest continent in the world so heat and drought resistance are very important in Australia. Disease resistance and salinity tolerance are also paramount. Many South Australian soils are saline and nutrient poor. No-till has become the norm in order to reduce water loss and conserve soils, but herbicide resistant weeds are becoming a large problem.  In my travels to northern Queensland, I also saw large sugarcane fields which were really interesting. Unfortunately I didn’t learn too much about that cropping system. I was able to meet with an Aussie wheat breeder and learn about the Australian wheat industry and I did some lab work for a durum wheat breeder at uni. As much as I learned in an academic setting, I learned so much more outside of the classroom and lab. Traveling opens one’s eyes to the incredible world around them and makes them approach and evaluate decisions much differently. My travels to New Zealand, the Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and all around South Australia increased my wonder for the natural world and conviction that each person is a treasure with a story to tell. Take a look at some of the pictures posted below for a sampling of my adventures!

Upon returning to the United States on July 5th, I had a week at home and then I moved back to campus and worked for Dow AgroSciences at their Fowler station. I led a crew of seasonal employees in the breeding nursery and later assisted with plant and ear height measurements. I had done similar work the last two summers but I was happy just to have a half internship after returning from studying abroad. I had previously worked for Dow AgroSciences at their Indianapolis labs in January before departing for Australia and I was really impressed with their research program and company culture. I look forward to writing for you all in the future! Boiler Up and Hail Purdue!

Daniel Sweeney

Michaela Turner- 2014 Beck's Superior Hybrids Production Intern

This summer, I lived in Atlanta, Indiana and worked for Beck's Hybrids Seed Company as a Production Intern. During the summer I worked very independently inspecting fields for top quality seed production.. I also worked with another intern conducting a project that we presented to the company on our last week.

The first week of my internship all the interns participated in Beck's On-Boarding program. During this we learned all about the company, and each department within the company. They took us on tours and introduced us to some of the top leaders within the company.

After On-Boarding,  I had some short training and was sent to my first field. I had my own truck and would travel to corn and soybean fields all over. In the beginning, I took stand counts and growth stages, identified weeds then monitored for bugs and diseases, eventually deficiencies and lastly took yield estimates. We recorded all of our information in an iPad Mini that would sync to our bosses computer. We would say what we saw, the pressure of the problem, and what we thought needed to be done. For instance one thing I might enter would be "Hemp Dogbane, medium patchy pressure, spray in 3-5 days."

During the summer, I also had to make sure that I made time to work on my summer project. Paige, another production intern, and I conducted pivot audits on 11 of Beck's pivots. We measured the amount of water each sprinkler was putting on using a catch can based test. Using the amount of water that we collected, we would then calculate the coefficient of uniformity. This simply gave each pivot a score on how uniform and efficient it was. We would then make graphs that identified where each pivot needed maintenance work. This project will help Beck's improve their pivot quality immensely. On our last week, we presented our project to the other interns and some of the leaders of the company. This was a great experience because I have never worked with irrigation before.

At this internship, I enjoyed learning about how the processes of seed production work. I also liked trying to identify problems in the fields and finding solutions to fix those problems. Most of all, it was the people that I got to work with that made such a great summer. This summer was a great learning experience. Internships help me identify where my skills and talents can best be utilized in the future when I look for a full time job. I would encourage everyone to get an internship each summer.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ireland 2014 Work Study: Part 1

Hello from Ireland. No better way to blog than sitting in a little coffee shop on a rainy day.  I have been living in the town of Naas, Co. Kildare for the past two weeks working at Naas Racecourse. I am living in the thoroughbred county capital of Ireland. The town population is approximately 20,000 and is full of unique shops and pubs to keep an American like me busy in my down time. I look forward in sharing with you a few highlights of the work I've been doing. Enjoy!

When I departed from the states on Tuesday, May 20 I had many questions running through my mind like how would I adapt to the culture, would I like who I working with, will I miss my family, what all is in store for me, who will I shake hands with or meet that will possibly change my professional career or life? As I have already had my fair share of traveling all over Europe getting to see England, France, Germany, Monaco, Italy, Greece, and Turkey before arriving in Ireland, I was confident this trip would treat me well. The flight over was absolutely beautiful as I was chasing the sun. There was not a single moment where there was complete darkness at 35,000 ft, there was always a sliver of sunlight at horizon. Flying over the grass covered hills of Ireland in the morning as the sun rose of the horizon was one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. Before I knew it I had landed in Dublin, made my way through customs, grabbed my bags, and onward I went with the famous Scottish agronomist John Souter. I soon made my way out of Dublin and into the County of Kildare where I would have tea and breakfast with the lads I would be working with this summer. After discussing our plans for the summer, off I went to my accommodations.  I would stay at a glorified B&B for the next two weeks in the town of Naas, where I would work along side GM, Tom Ryan of Naas Racecourse.  

Over the next two weeks, I would work with GM, Tom Ryan of Naas Racecourse to discuss how they manage their racecourse surface, exchange ideas on their way of doing things, and give my input and knowledge on ways to improve their racecourse surface. Naas Racecourse is definitely in the right hands with the help of credible Scottish agronomist  John Souter, and James D'Arcy of D'Arcy Contracts in making steps toward a first class racecourse in Ireland. Irish horse racecourses are much different than United States horse tracks as here they are built on native prairie soil, are 100% turf, and on the natural rolling hills. This comes with many problems such as poor soil drainage and poor physical soil properties, and by all means to correct these issues you need to select the most durable and resiliant turfgrasses, and have sound agronomic practices. The scale of these courses compared the United States is much more vast in that the foreman or groundsman has to maintain anywhere from 100-300 acres of top-notch turfgrass for the four legged, 1200lb athlete that come barreling down at 30mph over the pristine surface you have prepared for race day. After reviewing over multiple soil tests from the European Turfgrass Laboratory based out of Stirling, Scotland, I could make my recommendations on proper divot mixture, sand toprdressing applications, soil cultivation, and pesticide selection.  I came up with different spreadsheets that the groundsman can utilize to advance their record keeping system, and evaluations summarizing what I observed and can be changed to help improve the racecourse surface. I also assisted in preparing the racecourse for race day, and even roll the sleeves up and clean some horse stalls. 

I want to thank Tom Ryan and his team for allowing me to work along side them to help their racecourse surface and be open to my suggestions for improvements. There is a huge disconnect between the ways we manage turfgrass in the United States and the ways they manage turfgrass here in Europe. I find it absolutely vital that we make the connect with European groundsman to network, and share ideas to build the professionalism and improve the quality of our sports fields, golf courses, and racecourses. There is no better way I feel to discover new ideas about turfgrass management than to network with people from another culture, education system, and way of life than to travel overseas and observe the way things are done here. There are many more things you learn outside of just the classroom, a textbook, or a scholarly article review you've read. The people I have met, and the ideas I have learned over many cups of tea can only help me in my professional career later down the road. I look forward in what the next three weeks bring as I transition to The Curragh Racecourse in the town of Kildare, Co. Kildare. The Curragh Racecourse is considered the best flat racecourse in all of Ireland, and I am excited to hit the ground running with foreman Pat Webb to help prepare the racecourse the for Dubai Duty Free Derby the last week in June. The Curragh Racecourse organization runs a first class operation and I cannot wait to begin there Monday, June 9. Keep an eye out for future blog post as I will try my best to inform you of my work study. If you have any questions on my experiences in Ireland, please feel free to contact me at
-Andrew J. Wilhelm

(GM, Tom Ryan and I)

(Overlooking 270 acres of Naas Racecourse from grandstand)

(Entrance into Naas Racecourse from Tipper Rd.)

(Parade Ring at Naas Racecourse)

(Used for almost everything around the racecourse)

(Final 3 furlongs to finishing post)

(8 furlong start)

(First B&B on Blessington Rd.)

(Main St. in Naas, Ireland)

(Church of our Lady and St. David)

(Main St. Naas, Ireland)

(Second B&B on Mill Ln.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Greetings from Hailey Edmondson!


My name is Hailey Edmondson, and I am a new Agronomy Ambassador. I just finished an amazing first year, and am now a Sophomore in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology in Purdue's Agronomy Department. I am from San Diego, but West Lafayette is now my home away from home. My academic interests include agronomy and agriculture, and I am also interested in biotechnology. I am very involved in entrepreneurship groups on campus, including the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificate Program and the Professional Entrepreneurship Fraternity, Epsilon Nu Tau.

This summer I am staying on Purdue's campus doing research with the Purdue iGEM Team. For anyone interested in genetics, iGEM is an international collegiate genetic engineering organization. Universities from all over use genetics and synthetic biology to create a research project to present at an international conference. The most exciting thing about the Purdue iGEM Team is that this year our project is related to Agronomy! We are modifying microbial soil ecologies to optimize nutrient uptake in plant systems. I'm very excited to keep everyone updated on this project.

Keep your eyes open for a presentation the iGEM team will be having in the fall so that other students in Agronomy can learn about the project and the different applications genetics can provide to agronomic interests.

I look forward to seeing everyone in the Fall, have a great summer!