Introducing youth to agriculture helps bring the future into focus for many, and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis plays a part in the process.
On Wednesday, the college hosted its fourth annual Agronomy Youth Field Day. Students from around the area participated in various workshops. The youth were transported north of the college to its corn and soybean fields to learn about crop nutrition and crop scouting.
Todd Whitney, a University of Nebraska Extension educator from Holdrege, helped the students determine what indicators the corn showed and what nutrients might be missing in the plants.
“One of the things we can do is a soil probe that you can take out in the field,” Whitney said. “You can send that sample into the lab and we can have them analyze how much fertilizer is available in the soil.”
Making a visual assessment of the plants is the first step a farmer can do, Whitney said.
“When you see yellow, we need to think what could be causing that,” Whitney said.
But the eye is not the sole method for determining what the issue might be.
“Another tool we can use is the atLEAF chlorophyll meter,” Whitney said.
The tool helps identify nutritional problems that may or may not be correctable during the growing season.
Many times, Whitney said, the corrections will not be made until the following season.
Haydn Farr of Maywood, an eighth grader, said he learned some new things Wednesday.
“I live on a farm with my dad and we have to do a lot of the things that Brad (Ramsdale) and all these wonderful people are showing us,” Farr said. “I’m kind of hoping to learn stuff from this that I can help my dad with and see where it can take me in the future.”
The Farrs grow corn and soybeans on their farm.
“I learned about the different diseases that corn and soybeans can have and how it affects them,” Farr said.
Brad Ramsdale, associate professor of agronomy at NCTA, took the students to a soybean field.
He guided them through identifying the growth stage of the field and the various insects that could be found.
Both Whitney and Ramsdale said the crops are rotated every year because corn needs a lot of nitrogen.
Soybeans produce a lot of nitrogen, so they work together for healthier plants.