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Panhandle State Crops Judging Team Places Second at National Contest

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 04/12/2017 The Oklahoma Panhandle State University Crops Judging team recently finished second in the nation at the 2017 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference in Manhattan, Kan. held April 6-8 at Kansas State University. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Curtis Bensch, Cody Fischer, Sidney Rentz, Tyler Meyeres, and Ben Brady. —Courtesy photoThe Oklahoma Panhandle State University Crops Judging team recently finished second in the nation at the 2017 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference in Manhattan, Kan. held April 6-8 at Kansas State University. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Curtis Bensch, Cody Fischer, Sidney Rentz, Tyler Meyeres, and Ben Brady. —Courtesy photo

Goodwell, Okla. — While it may be no surprise that students at a small rural university situated in the heart of farming country would be capable agronomists, what is truly impressive and perhaps even hard to believe is that these same students could compete against and outperform students at major land-grant universities from across the United States.

The Oklahoma Panhandle State University Crops Judging team recently finished second in the nation at the 2017 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference in Manhattan, Kan. held April 6-8 at Kansas State University. It was the largest crops judging contest to date with 17 four-year colleges and universities participating. Iowa State University, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln finished first, second, and third, respectively. The Panhandle State Agronomy Department is no stranger to success as this is the second time in the last three years for the crops judging team to place second under Coach Dr. Curtis Bensch, Head of the Panhandle State Agronomy Department.

Panhandle State junior and team member Tyler Meyeres said, “We are lucky to have him (Dr. Bensch). He could be teaching anywhere. He really does a good job of making it easy to understand. He breaks it down for us. On top of that, he cares about each of us and gives at his own expense.”

Another team member, Cody Fischer, will graduate in May with a degree in Agronomy and Dr. Bensch has played a key role in his education. “Dr. Bensch isn’t just a professor teaching from the books. He wants to teach us the latest and the greatest. He grew up on a farm and understands the importance of keeping us informed of the newest developments.”

The crops judging competition is an intensive examination of agronomic skills and knowledge designed around the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program. The contest consists of four sections: laboratory practical, agronomic exam, math practical and plant and seed identification. In the laboratory practical, competitors identify insects, diseases, equipment, and crop products, plus determine crop growth stages, interpret pesticide labels or seed tags, name plant structures, identify nutrient deficiencies, and evaluate various crop production problems. The agronomic exam evaluated knowledge of crop production and management, crop physiology and breeding, soil properties, soil fertility, tillage, crop harvesting and storage, weeds, insects and diseases. The math practical included equipment calibration, pesticide application and other agronomic calculations. Seed and plant identification requires contestants to identify over 150 plant and seed specimens.

Panhandle State President Dr. Tim Faltyn said, “We are so proud of everyone involved. This is just another example of the excellence represented at Panhandle State.”

This year’s Reserve National Champion team is made up of four students including Ben Brady of Remsen, Iowa; Cody Fischer of Hooker, Okla.; Tyler Meyeres of Vilas, Colo.; and Sidney Rentz of Hooker, Okla. Other students who traveled and competed with the team were Kinsey Puyear of Johnson, Kan. and Mary Kate McCall of Yuma, Colo.

Dr. Bensch is extremely proud of the team’s second place finish, “to be successful in this contest students must demonstrate a mastery of the knowledge and skills essential for success in agronomy. These OPSU students showed that they could perform on a national stage, and it was especially satisfying for them to do so well at my alma mater, Kansas State University.”

In preparation for NACTA, Dr. Bensch and the students have put in the miles this spring competing at two other regional contests in Iowa and Nebraska.

In addition to competing in the crops judging contest, the students also participated in two other contests, the Knowledge Bowl and the Precision Ag Contest. The Knowledge Bowl contest consisted of questions focusing on Agribusiness/Farm Management, Ag Mechanics/Precision Agriculture, Animal Sciences, Crops/Soils, Horticulture, and Current Agricultural Events. Sponsored by John Deere, the Precision Ag contest was based around skills related to precision agriculture applications for planting, crop protection, and harvest. Each section involved component identification, mathematical calculations, and a situational analysis. A final section involved analysis and interpretation of precision maps and/or data. Hands on activities were completed with planters, sprayers and combines on site. Panhandle State placed fourth as a team in the Precision Ag contest with Cody Fischer finishing as the second high individual overall in the Precision Ag Contest. Fischer also won the sprayer portion of the contest.

Following graduation in May, Fischer plans to farm full-time in the Hooker, Okla. area. The “real life application” of the Agronomy courses at Panhandle State is important to him and will continue to play an important role in his farming practices in the future as he strives to make educated decisions.

Taking every opportunity to gain knowledge, Dr. Bensch organized tours of Veris Technologies and The Land Institute both of Salina, Kan. for the group during the trip to Kansas. Earlier in the year while at a regional contest the students toured Monsanto’s Water Utilization Learning Center at Gothenburg, Neb.

Thanks goes out to the team’s generous supporters including: Crop Production Services, Dekalb, Asgrow, DeltaPine, Dyna-Gro, All-Tex, Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta and SportsZone and a very special thanks to Brandon Tripp with Crop Production Services of Guymon, Okla.

Panhandle State was also represented at the NACTA Judging Conference by Tyler Hall of Scott City, Kan. in the Meats Judging competition. Hall was the ninth high individual.

 


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