Tennessee’s Dyer County FFA members participated in a fun and educational
in-field experience by scouting the latest in soybean technology
during the 2011 season.
By Carroll Smith
Many worthy facets of an agricultural education take place in Future Farmers of America (FFA) classrooms everyday. Among them are leadership, confidence and character building, increasing awareness of the global and technological importance of agriculture and developing teamwork and communications skills, just to name a few.
But as most FFA members would agree, participating in a real-life, hands-on agricultural experience also has its merits. Last September, several members of Tennessee’s Dyer County FFA chapter had an opportunity to take part in an activity designed to combine fun along with an agronomic, on-farm learning experience.
The event was called “Pod Patrol,” and it took place on Paul Finley’s farm in Finley, Tenn., where the FFA members scouted the latest in Asgrow soybean technology.
The students worked alongside Larry Ganann, Asgrow/DEKALB territory agronomist, and Ty Parker, Asgrow/DEKALB territory sales manager, to observe the increased yield potential found in Asgrow Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans. With this technology, farmers like Paul Finley have reported seeing more 3-, 4- and even 5-bean pods per plant when compared to the original Roundup Ready technology.
More beans, more bushels
Reed Hester, a junior at Dyer County High School, says when he finishes college, he plans to come back to farm soybeans, corn, wheat and grain sorghum with his dad. When asked what he gleaned from the Pod Patrol experience, Hester says, “I learned about the new traits that Monsanto has on the market now with the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology. These Asgrow varieties can be very successful and productive under the right conditions. We also learned that these soybeans have more 3- and 4-bean pods, and, every now and then, you’ll even see a 5-beaner.”
Another FFA member Beth Orr, who found her passion for animals through the youth organization, says she is one day hoping to become an equine vet and work with large animals.
“We have about 20 acres and some horses, so I had never been around crop production before,” Orr says. “I learned a lot that day about genetics and how they can improve our crops. What surprised me the most was adding just five more beans per plant can add several more bushels to an acre.”
Overall plant health
Morgan Walker, who says she originally joined FFA to have a venue to continue her interest in public speaking, now admits that “Agriculture will always be a huge part of my life no matter what career path I choose to take.” Right now, her future plans are to attend the University of Mississippi to pursue a major in ag communications and a minor in political science.
“I foresee my career as a lobbyist for agriculture,” Walker says. “I feel this career choice will give me a platform to change the way that agriculture is perceived.”
When asked to describe her experience on Finley’s farm that September day, she says, “This trip gave us the opportunity to get out of the classroom and actually see what we were learning about and discussing. We were given the opportunity to enter the fields and search for 3-, 4- and 5-bean pods.
“We also examined the plants for pod fill, overall health and insect damage and were encouraged to ask questions while we were out in the field,” she adds.
Since FFA was formed in 1928, it’s not unusual to see family legacies within the organization. Lane Duncan, who is a senior, says both his father and his brother were very active members of FFA. Plus, Lane himself “has a strong love for agriculture” and plans to attend the University of Tennessee, Martin, this fall and major in agricultural engineering.
Duncan also was part of the Pod Patrol that visited Finley’s farm.
“We went there to study Mr. Finley’s Asgrow Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans and how they differ from other soybeans,” he says. “While we were on patrol, we looked for how many beans were in each pod and discussed the yield potential and genetics.”
Ganann, who helped organize the on-farm event, says, “We brought these students out here to give them some exposure to what we are doing with the latest technology in soybeans. We wanted to teach them what we look for in a soybean plant and what we try to deliver to our customers with Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology.”
“It was truly a wonderful experience to learn how far soybean technology has advanced,” Orr says, “and really exciting to think about its bright future.”