Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Science Fair

Greg Vincent at Farm Journal interviewed a 7th grader about his science fair project. It was great. It sounded like an Ed Winkle story to me.

The farmboy entered the local science fair and wanted to do something on crops because his dad is a crop farmer. He decided to do it on corn or maize because his dad was always working with his corn. With side-dressing and weed killing corn requires a lot of attention before canopy to get those big ears at tassle time now.

His wise dad said why don't you do something with soybean inoculants instead? Something tells me he has heard the stories like mine where inoculants make money today, something I have been pushing since Leon Bird introduced me to the newer USDA strain patented by Dr. David Kykendall at Beltsville in the early 90's. Many farmers have went back to inoculating soybeans when for decades our land grant colleges said you don't need to inoculate soybeans if the field had soybeans in it before because of native rhizobia populations.

Dr. Dave was working with sugar beets when he discovered these advanced strains in the soil and started working with them and came up with the newer USDA strain. Thanks to Leon I got to meet Dr. Kuykendall and really got into inoculants. Grandpa had learned this in legumes as a farmer and the land grant system reinforced that idea when dad planted his first soybeans decades ago. It always paid on our farm so we did it.

HyMark started when the boys were in grade school and needed a good Supervised Agricultural Experience so we started HyMark Consulting in 1994 because I was consulting for a fee and scouting fields and my farmer friends in Warren County kept calling with questions when I moved from county agent back to high school classroom teaching in 94. The second boy is named Mark for the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. HyMark just stuck.

Matt and Mark helped me sell and deliver the products of Bird Hybrids in Tiffin, Ohio for extra money and the USDA strain inoculant was one of the products. When Mark needed a science fair project, soybean inoculants was an easy pick. In high school, the FFA came up with a new Emerging Technology SAE Proficiency and the science fair project was a natural fit. He won Ohio with it and became a National Finalist.

When you listen to the video, it reminds me of those days and my own science fair projects. The young man took his project to the finals and was awarded a $10,000 college scholarship! The neat part is at the end because he wants to go to Purdue University. I was in the same position in 1968 but I never won a scholarship there and in-state tuition was so much cheeaper at Ohio State.

So, this Buckeye never became a Hoosier, it just wasn't in the cards. It sounds a lot more plausible for the young man from Plymouth, Indiana in five more years.

My prize bean field points out the value of inoculants today. The first signs we posted on it was America's Best Soybean Inoculant which has raised a lot of eyebrows this summer. I got more tissue test results yesterday and the field treated with it is high in Nitrogen but the field where it and another new strain nicknamed R09 for Rhizobia 2009 is even higher in Nitrogen.

It all started with a science fair project decades ago.



  1. Is a 7th grader smarter than a farmer?

  2. I feel lіke I've been on the wrong end of a stampeed after reading all this. It's not good working with a hangovеr.

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