Eight teams of students representing high schools from across Iowa competed in the third annual Crop Scouting Competition conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on August 1 at Ames. The contest was created several years ago to increase high school students' awareness of Iowa agriculture through hands-on learning and teamwork. Students apply integrated pest management principles to corn and soybean scouting experiences as they prepare for and participate in the competition.
Competition components included corn and soybean growth staging, weed identification, a knowledge of biochar production and use, along with diagnosing herbicide injury and insects and diseases of corn and soybeans. Prior to participating in the competition, the student teams also prepared a creative component related to scouting and Integrated Pest Management that benefited their communities.
"There have been some strong teams that have attended the competition the last two years and 2013 was no different," says Daren Mueller, Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management program director and an ISU Extension plant pathologist. "It is good news for Iowa's ag future when students are learning early about the basics of crop scouting. This knowledge can be valuable on the family farm as well as in ag industry."
2013 Crop Scouting Competition Winners—the team from Clayton County took first place
First place was awarded to a team from Clayton County led by Joe Shirbroun, a Pioneer independent sales representative from Farmersburg. His team included Sam Hilgerson and Luke Orr from Elkader, Joe Kann from Guttenberg, and Glyn Powell from Strawberry Point. A very close second (by less than 1.5 points) was awarded to the student team from Clarion-Goldfield led by Rachel Halbach, an agronomist with Hagie Manufacturing Company; and Angela Charlson, Clarion-Goldfield FFA adviser.
An all-girl team and an all-boy team from North Scott high school took third and fourth place
Third place went to the all-girl team from North Scott while fourth went to the boys' team from North Scott. Both of these teams were led by Dan and Nancy Urmie from Long Grove, along with Jamie Gray, vocational ag instructor at North Scott High School.
Most competitors and instructors (90% of post-event survey respondents) agree that the competition was a useful learning tool for students. However, all respondents said most of the learning takes place before the competition, when team leaders are training student teams to compete.
The contest was funded by DuPont Pioneer and the Iowa Soybean Association along with a grant from the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center and support from ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff. Additional support was provided by ISU Department of Agronomy and Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association.