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K-State Crops Team competes in Australia


CROPS TEAM—The K-State Collegiate Crops Team stands in an Australian canola field (from left to right): Coach Kevin Donnelly, Scott Henry, Levi Larkins, Kim Kerschen, Lindsey Pollock, and Chelsea Ahlquist. (Photo courtesy of Kansas State University.)

The Kansas State University Crops Team recently returned from a week-long study trip to Australia to compete in the Australian Universities Crops Competition in Temora, New South Wales. The trip was made possible by support from the Grain Growers Organization from Australia, who also hosted the competition and all associated events.

Grain Growers Chairman John Eastburn and previous student winners of the Australian competition had visited K-State and competed in the national Collegiate Crops Contests in Kansas City and Chicago in November 2011. The K-State Crops Team was invited for this exchange trip to Australia as a result of winning these contests in 2011.

Agronomy students and crops team members on the trip included: Kim Kerschen, Garden Plain, Kan.; Chelsea Ahlquist, Onaga, Kan.; Scott Henry, Goff, Kan.; Levi Larkins, Belvue, Kan.; and Lindsey Pollock, Blandinsville, IL. The team is coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy.

The team began the trip with a visit to popular sites in Sydney, Sydney Harbor and the nearby Blue Mountains. Members of the team also toured a hydroponic vegetable farm outside Sydney. On the trip to Temora, they stopped to visit Charles Sturt University and agronomic research projects at the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation Field Station at Wagga Wagga, about five hours west of Sydney--one of Australia's primary wheat and canola production areas.

The contestants also attended a field day at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre sponsored by FarmLink, where more than 20 seed, chemical and agronomic service companies discussed their variety trials and research plots. Learning about Australian white wheat and canola varieties, ryegrass herbicide resistance problems, and the use of pulse crops such as chickpeas, lentils, lupins, fieldpeas and faba beans in crop rotations were highlights for the K-State group.

The competition, held over two days at Temora, included seed identification, tests over chickpea and canola production and quality, commercial grading of wheat, a business management problem, field yield estimates and management recommendations, and a live crop, weed and disease component. Evening social events and meals plus morning and afternoon tea were provided by Grain Growers.

The K-State team placed fourth overall in the competition against teams from the major agricultural universities across southern Australia. The top-three-placing Australian students are scheduled to travel to the U.S. for national collegiate crops contests this fall.

The day after the contest, the group was hosted by Grain Growers board member Gerry Lane and his son for a tour of their family farm. The farm featured integration of sheep production with cropping systems, use of controlled traffic for field operations, and wheat, canola and pulse crop rotations, in addition to glimpses of wild kangaroos. The group also visited a licorice factory and lavender farm. A visit to Bondi Beach for some dolphin viewing concluded the trip.

In addition to the support from Grain Growers of Australia, K-State's College of Agriculture provided international travel scholarships to the students and the Department of Agronomy supported travel expenses.

Date: 10/8/2012


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