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Department of Agronomy

Department of Agronomy
Kansas State University
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Just Another Day in Agronomy - Departmental News

The Wildcat Way: Chuck Rice


K-state crops team claims fifth straight national championship 12/11/13

2013 K-State Crops Team

MANHATTAN – The Kansas State University Crops Team recently captured the title of national champion for the fifth year in a row. K-State teams have now won the crops contest championship in twelve of the past fifteen years. To win the 2013 national title, the team won both the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 19 and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 23.

K-State placed first at both contests in plant-and-seed identification and grain grading, and second in seed analysis. Individually, the three K-State team members completed a rare sweep of the top three places in both contests.

Official members of the K-State team were Jeri Sigle, senior, Council Grove; Nathan Larson, sophomore, Kensington; and Morgan Halderson, senior, Delphos. Alternates were sophomores Sam Knauss, Paola; Tyler Herrs, Linn; and Ben Coomes, Girard. All are agronomy majors except Sigle, who is majoring in agricultural education with a minor in agronomy.

Sigle was the high individual overall in both contests. In Chicago she was first in grain grading with a perfect score, second in identification, and third in seed analysis. In Kansas City she was second in identification and seed analysis and fourth in grain grading.

Nathan Larson finished second overall in both contests, tying with Sigle in Chicago for first in grain grading with a perfect score, and finished first in identification and fifth in seed analysis. In Kansas City, he was first in identification and second in grain grading.

Morgan Halderson was third in both events, highlighted by first place in grain grading with a perfect score in Kansas City. She was second in grain grading in Chicago and fourth in identification in both contests.

Sam Knauss was an alternate in both contests, and he also posted a perfect score in grain grading in Kansas City. Tyler Herrs and Ben Coomes competed in Kansas City.

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Assistant coach was Hannah Christen, senior in agronomy from Oregon, IL, who was a member of the 2012 team.

In the contests, participants are required to identify 200 different plant or seed samples of crops and weeds; grade eight different samples of grain according to Federal Grain Inspection Service standards; and analyze ten seed samples to determine what contaminants they contain.

The American Royal assumed leadership of the Kansas City contest this year, with CHS Foundation as the primary sponsor. Additional sponsors were the American Society of Agronomy, DuPont Pioneer, and the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.

The primary sponsor of the Chicago contest this year was the CME Group. In addition, donors in Chicago included the Crop Science Society of America, Growmark Cooperative, and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists.

For its performance, K-State received a team scholarship award from contest sponsors at Kansas City, and CME Group provided individual scholarships to the top five students at Chicago.

Locally, sponsors for the K-State Crops Team include the Kansas Crop Improvement Association, Department of Agronomy, and the K-State Student Government Association.

Source: Kevin Donnelly, 785-532-5402, kjd@k-state.edu
Written by: Steve Watson, 785-532-7105, swatson@k-state.edu


Photo Caption

K-State 2013 Collegiate Crops Team (l to r): Nathan Larson, Sam Knauss, Morgan Halderson, Ben Coomes, Jeri Sigle, Tyler Herrs, Hannah Christen (Asst. Coach), Dr. Kevin Donnelly (Coach)

(updated 12/11/13)


Improved crop monitoring takes flight 11/26/13

Kevin Price

Kevin Price is a rangelands ecologist and remote sensing expert who spent 19 years in the University of Kansas geography department working with satellite images on projects funded by NASA. But Price also grew up on a farm, so he welcomed the chance to “get back to his ag roots” when the Kansas State University agronomy department offered him a remote sensing professorship in 2008.

His agronomy colleagues were just as enthused to have Price on board. Then he began showing them satellite images of cropland taken from 450 miles above the earth. “Most agronomists, at least in this department, are used to looking at individual plants on the ground,” Price says. “And when they can’t see an individual plant in a LANDSAT pixel that’s one-fifth of an acre in size, they don’t get very excited.”

Fortunately, one of Price’s graduate students approached him two years ago wanting to work on applying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in agriculture. Commonly known as drones, small UAS equipped with cameras can be flown just above crops to monitor conditions such as nitrogen status or disease.

Their impact on farming is projected to be huge. According to a recent study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, for example, small unmanned aircraft will be an $85 to $100 billion industry by 2025, with 80% of that money being spent in agriculture. Read more...

(updated 11/26/13)


Kirkham receives Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award 11/05/13

M.B. Kirkham wins awardAmerican Society of Agronomy member Mary Beth Kirkham receives the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award from Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor of the University of Kansas. Read more...



K-State will lead effort to develop climate-resilient wheat 11/05/13

Jesse Poland
Researchers from K-State, CIMMYT, Cornell and USDA to Collaborate on Feed the Future Project
Kansas State University h
as been chosen to lead a new effort focused on developing wheat varieties that are resilient to the warming effects of climate change. The initial focus will be on wheat in South Asia, which typically produces 20 percent of the world’s wheat crop. Poland will lead the team, which includes researchers from K-State, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Cornell University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read more...

Photo Caption

Kansas State University adjunct assistant professor Jesse Poland will lead an international team of researchers on a five-year project focused on developing climate resilient wheat. Poland is a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.