Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms and ISU Extension have hired two agricultural specialists to expand the ISU Farmer Assisted Research and Management, or ISU FARM, project. Micah Smidt and Zachary Koopman will work at the Northern Research Farm near Kanawha, and the Agricultural Engineering & Agronomy Farm near Boone, respectively.
ISU FARM will extend the reach of the research farms near Kanawha and Boone. A network of cooperators in the surrounding counties will be established to conduct research on their farms.
Smidt and Koopman will assist cooperators in choosing topics related to corn or soybeans, designing and laying out the study, planting the test strips, applying the experimental treatments, and collecting and analyzing the data. Smidt also will work with farmers in northeast Iowa near the ISU Northeast Research Farm near Nashua.
Smidt of Kanawha earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Iowa State in 2010, and has experience as a crop consultant and production agriculture. Koopman of Boone earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Iowa State in 2009, and has worked with custom application, crop protection and production agriculture.
ISU FARM is supported by the local associations that own the research farms: North Central Iowa Research Association, Kanawha; Northeast Iowa Agricultural Experimental Association, Nashua; and the Committee for Agricultural Development, Ames. Ag Ventures Alliance, a Mason City business development group for value-added ag ventures, and the Iowa Soybean Association also have invested in the program.
Dunn hired as new FEEL training facility coordinator by Iowa State University
ISU also made another announcement last week regarding expanding another one of its crop-related programs. The Field Extension Education Laboratory begins the 2012 growing and training session with a new activities coordinator. On March 1, Joshua (Josh) Dunn started as FEEL coordinator with the responsibility of coordinating demonstration plots and scheduling training events at the 43-acre Iowa State University Extension and Outreach facility.
Dunn, an Arkansas native, has a B.S. in botany and an M.S. in agriculture from Arkansas State University, where his research focused on soybean stress avoidance. He has 13 years' experience in the industry managing crop stress trials including soybean, rice and corn breeding and yield trials, conducting regulated testing on transgenic crops and managing environmental stress trials on corn and soybean. The last six years he has lived and worked in Iowa and Missouri.
"Much of my work has been looking at the environmental effects on plants — cotton, rice, soybean and corn," Dunn says. "Coming to this position at FEEL builds on those experiences and allows me to bring an understanding of the training needs of industry to the position."
Plans to expand training opportunities, and work with more industry partners
Dunn will work with Iowa State University faculty and researchers that have historically conducted demonstration plots at FEEL and continue the successful programs of the past. Additionally, he plans to expand the training potential by bringing onboard new faculty and researchers and looking at opportunities to work with industry partners to create demonstrations and conduct research that is relevant to Iowa growers.
"I'm looking forward to extension and outreach work — where I can talk about the trials and demonstrations we are conducting and help farmers apply our findings," said Dunn. "I also enjoy being able to tell my son about the projects at FEEL and am excited to find ways to bring him and other students and 4-H'ers to the facility for field trips."
While supporting training and demonstration needs of the traditional FEEL audiences — farmers, extension and agri-business agronomists — Dunn plans to use available resources and target new audiences. Some new research and demonstration this year will involve the use of a hail simulator that will allow plant pathologists to evaluate how hail-damaged plants respond to fungicides. These plots also can be used as hail damage demonstration plots — a perfect scenario for training crop hail professionals. Also this year, there will be an ancestral crop demonstration that will provide a historical prospective on the ancestry of current cultivated corn and soybeans looking at how these plants have changed over time with selective breeding.
Dunn anticipates more educational opportunities for farmers and other agriculture professionals as partnerships, such as a scheduled spray school and weed management training with two large agrochemical companies. "These partnerships make it possible to host demonstrations and training clinics using the most modern equipment," he said.
When Dunn isn't coordinating events or exploring new opportunities for FEEL, he is at home with his wife and son on their farm raising llamas and goats and taking time to hike and canoe. "Iowa has really become home for us. We love it here," he said.