The Crops Judging Team recently competed in three contests at the NACTA Judging Conference in Norfolk, Neb. —Courtesy photos

May 8, 2018

Panhandle State Communications

Crops Judging Team Competes at NACTA

Goodwell, Okla. — The annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference was held at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb. April 18–21, 2018 and the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Agronomy Department was well represented competing in three contests.

A group of six agronomy students made the trip including Mary Kate McCall, John Paul Kain, Coleman Sintas, Allison Jones, Kierra Smartt, and Ross Brown. The group was accompanied by advisor and Agronomy Department Chair Dr. Curtis Bensch.

The team of Kain, Brown, Smartt, and McCall took sixth overall in the Crops Judging Contest in which 17 universities competed. Kain was 14th high individual overall. The crops judging competition is an intensive examination of agronomic skills and knowledge designed around the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program. The contest consists of four sections: laboratory practical, agronomic exam, math practical and plant and seed identification. In the laboratory practical, competitors identify insects, diseases, equipment, and crop products, plus determine crop growth stages, interpret pesticide labels or seed tags, name plant structures, identify nutrient deficiencies, and evaluate various crop production problems. The agronomic exam evaluated knowledge of crop production and management, crop physiology and breeding, soil properties, soil fertility, tillage, crop harvesting and storage, weeds, insects and diseases. The math practical included equipment calibration, pesticide application and other mathematical calculations. Plant and seed identification requires contestants to identify over 150 plant and seed specimens in vegetative and reproductive growth stages. In preparation for the national contest, Dr. Bensch and the students also competed at two regional crops contests where they placed 4th each time.

The young Panhandle State agronomists also competed in the Precision Agriculture contest. The team of Kain, McCall, Brown, and Jones finished fourth overall. The Precision Agriculture contest was made up of three sections. In the component ID sections, students identified equipment used for data collection and variable rate application on a combine, planter, and sprayer. In the written exam section, students answered questions relating to precision ag management, hardware requirements, and precision irrigation. A third section involved analysis and interpretation of precision maps and/or data.

The team of Kain, Jones, Sintas, and Brown also participated in the Knowledge Bowl contest. The Knowledge Bowl contest consisted of questions focusing on agribusiness and farm management, ag mechanics, precision agriculture, animal science, crops and soils, horticulture, and current agricultural events. The Knowledge Bowl team had a strong performance winning the first round before falling to the overall champions Iowa State University in the second round. The team went on to win two rounds in the consolation bracket before losing out in a sudden death playoff in the third round.

McCall, a senior, commented on the contest, “It is hard for a little university like OPSU to go up against major universities like Iowa State and K-State, but it only pushes us to work harder to be at the top with them. The competition gets harder and harder each year, but we have proven ourselves time after time that we belong. The major universities now know who Panhandle State is and respect us.”

Dr. Bensch said, “I am very proud of this group. They worked extremely hard in preparing for the contests and performed at a very high level in stiff competition against much larger universities and land grant colleges. They responded with maturity in the face of challenging situations.”

Also during the trip, the group visited Producer’s Hybrids, a seed company in Battle Creek, Nebraska. They were given a tour of the seed preparation, treatment and packaging facility and then had lunch with the manager and staff of the facility. Producers Hybrids is an innovative seed company focused on superior products, elite genetics and cutting edge trait technologies for producers in the Midwest.

Special thanks goes out to the team’s generous supporters including Brandon Tripp with Crop Production Services in Guymon, Okla.

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