Five members of the Kansas State University Crops Team recently returned from a study trip to Australia where they took first place in the Australian Universities Crops Competition. The event was hosted by the Australian Grain Growers organization and was held in Temora, New South Wales.
K-State Crops Team members making the trip were: Samantha L’Ecuyer, Morrowville, Kansas; Nicole Sudbeck, Seneca, Kansas; Michaela Simmelink, Downs, Kansas; Jessi Bramhall, Seneca, Kansas; and Sarah Zerger, Cheney, Kansas. The team was accompanied by coach Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy, and Kim Kerschen, academic coordinator in agronomy.
L’Ecuyer took second place overall individual in the contest. Bramhall was 6th and Sudbeck placed 10th overall individual.
Teams from Iowa State University, Virgina Tech University and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville also competed, along with several agricultural universities across southern and western Australia.
Three team members, L’Ecuyer, Sudbeck and Simmelink, were awarded a stipend from the American Society of Agronomy to cover their travel expenses as a result of previously placing 1-2-3 in the U.S. Collegiate Crops contests in Kansas City and Chicago held in November, 2015. The K-State team previously participated in the Australian Universities Crops Competition in 2012 and 2014. They also placed first as a team in 2014.
The competition was held over two days at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre, managed by FarmLink. The contest included a seed identification section, three exams over production of selected Australian crops, commercial grading of wheat samples, a business management problem, field yield estimates and management recommendations, and a live crop, weed and disease evaluation component.
Before and after the competition, contestants toured research projects being conducted on site and at farms in the area. Learning about canola and Australian white wheat production, ryegrass herbicide resistance problems, and the use of pulse crops such as lupins and fieldpeas in crop rotations were highlights for the U.S. team.
The students also took the opportunity to learn about Australia. The trip began with visits to popular sites in Sydney, followed by a trip to the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns. They also visited the Atherton Tablelands region in Queensland to observe tropical agriculture including sugar cane production and a coffee plantation. On the trip to Temora, the group visited the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.
After the competition, they toured Charles Sturt University and the Rhizolysimeter Center at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. The trip also included with two farm visits in the Junee area featuring mixed cropping systems integrating wheat, canola and pulse crops with pasture crops supporting sheep production.
In addition to the grant funds from the American Society of Agronomy, the trip was sponsored by the K-State Department of Agronomy. The College of Agriculture also provided international travel scholarships to the Kansas State University students.