Fran tenBensel Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Crops Judging Team finished the spring season of competition on top and that was helping them prepare for the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Judging Conference April 1–4. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the judging conference was canceled.
The intercollegiate team placed fourth overall in the four-year university division at the Southern Plains Regional crops contest Feb. 14 at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
The contest was organized as a regional competition among 15 four-year universities and two-year colleges. Students competed in four different components covering crop and weed identification, agronomic mathematics, general agronomic knowledge and a lab practical covering various agronomic concepts such as disease management and entomology.
Nebraska’s team included agronomy majors Jared Stander, Justin Zoucha, Katie Jo Steffen, Jacob Vallery and Korbin Kudera. Zoucha also tied for second overall, individually, with a score of 520 points out of a possible 600.
The team competed in the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Collegiate Crops Contest March 7 in Curtis, Nebraska. Brad Ramsdale, NCTA associate professor of agronomy, coordinated the contest.
Students competing included agronomy majors Stander, Zoucha, Steffen, Korbin, Vallery and Sarina Janssen. As a team, the Huskers placed third overall in the four-year division. Kudera placed fifth overall, individually, with a score of 482 points out of the possible 600.
The NCTA contest drew collegiate teams from around the Midwest. Twelve teams came from Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin with around 90 participants competing in the four-part contest. Eight of the teams were from four-year colleges, with four teams representing two-year colleges.
Designed to prepare students for a future career in agronomy, the crops judging contest included an agronomic exam, a math exam, a plant and seed identification exam and a lab practical. The agronomic exam covered general agronomic knowledge. The math exam covered mathematical problems related to agronomy. The plant and seed identification exam tested students’ knowledge of 140 crops and weeds species. The lab practical included questions on various agronomy related disciplines such as weed science, entomology and plant pathology.
This contest helped prepare students for the NACTA Judging Conference that was scheduled for April 1–4 at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. However, the competition was canceled. Fort Hays State University plans to host the conference April 14–17, 2021.
“Our team, much like other university events, was effected by COVID-19,” team coach Adam Striegel said. I’m disappointed our senior members were unable to compete at the national judging conference in Kansas as it would have highlighted all the hard work and dedication they have shown over the last year. The decision to cancel the judging conference was the right one, as over 800 undergraduate students compete from two-year and four-year institutions across the United States.”
In the last four years, the UNL Crops Judging Team’s record in competitions has included five second-place, nine third-place and two fourth-place finishes.
The team is coached by Striegel, an agronomy master’s student who successfully defended his thesis on weed science this spring. Samantha Teten, an agronomy alumnus and graduate student in mechanized systems management, stepped in to assist him this semester.
“We look forward to returning to the classroom and competitions this fall,” Striegel said.
The team’s first competition in the fall semester will be the national Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences contest at the 2020 American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting Nov. 8-11 in Phoenix, Arizona.