Agronomy students finished third in the Precision Agriculture Contest and fourth in the Crops Judging Contest at NACTA. —Courtesy photo

May 7, 2019

Panhandle State Communications

Top Five Finishes for Agronomy at NACTA

Goodwell, Okla. — The Oklahoma Panhandle State University Agronomy Department made a great showing at the annual North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference. The event was held at Murray State University in Murray, Ky. April 10-13, 2019.

Agronomy Department Chair and Coach Dr. Curtis Bensch along with Assistant Coach Daren Stephens accompanied a group of five students to the event. The students including John Paul Kain, Coleman Sintas, Kierra Smartt, Ross Brown, and Allison Jones competed in three different contests.

The first of which was the Precision Agriculture competition and Kain, Brown, Sintas, and Jones finished as the third high team overall. The students excelled individually as well with Kain finishing second in the Harvesting section, Brown finishing third in the Planting section, Sintas finishing fifth high overall in the UAS section, and Jones finishing seventh in the Spraying category.

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, sprayer and drone. 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 students also competed in the Crops Judging Contest. The team of Kain, Brown, Smartt, and Jones finished a commending fourth overall out of 15 universities. Kain earned an impressive sixth place individual finish.

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.

Panhandle State was also represented in the Knowledge Bowl contest consisting of questions focusing on agribusiness and farm management, ag mechanics, precision agriculture, animal science, crops and soils, horticulture, and current agricultural events. The team did well winning several rounds.

During the trip to Kentucky, the group had the opportunity to work out at the teaching facilities at Kansas State University in preparation for the Crops Judging contest. The students also got additional preparation for the Precision Agriculture contest at Lakelands Community College in Mattoon, Illinois. Sightseeing took place in St. Louis with a visit to the Budweiser Brewery and the St. Louis Arch. During their time at Murray State University, the team took a fascinating apiary (honeybee) tour.

Coach Curtis Bensch was extremely proud of the students and their finishes at the NACTA contests. “The students put in a lot of hard work in preparation for these events and in turn get a great deal of practical hands-on experience which is great for them as they prepare to start their careers as professional agronomists. I am already looking forward to next year and the upcoming group of what I feel will be another great group of young agronomists.”

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