My name is Caden Schuster and I am an agronomy intern with the precision crop management team. Next fall I will be a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I am majoring in Ag Econ with minors in agronomy and precision agriculture. I have spent most of my time this summer working in the Owners Acres fields. In the first month of my internship we have done many different things. Anything from scouting the fields, flag testing, tissue sampling, spraying, fertilizing, and irrigating just to name a few. We basically get to be the farmers and the agronomists of our fields at the same time; which is perfect for me since I come from a farming background.
One thing that I have been very interested in is spraying. I’ve always known the names of the chemicals we are using and what category most of them fall into just from prior knowledge. But now I am learning when and why farmers use these. I get to see what you can and cannot put together in a tank, which chemicals can be sprayed on certain hybrids, and what goes into deciding what you want to spray on your acres.
Another item we are finishing up is fertilizing. I got to learn about how much nitrogen a plant needs throughout its’ life cycle and how that over the plants’ life span you always want there to be a sufficient source for your crop. Along with this came a fairly new concept to me which was learning about GDUs and how they are just a more precise and measurable way to look at plant growth stages so you have a better idea on when those crucial developmental stages are happening.
Some of the things we have been doing on more of the agronomy side are emergence testing, stand counts, and tissue sampling. We started off doing the emergence test when the crops were just beginning to come out of the ground. When it comes harvest time we can see if there is a difference between the first emerged and the last emerged plant. We then took stands counts once all the crops had emerged to check and see if the population that was planted was the same as what came up in the field. Now, we are getting into tissue sampling where we send leaf samples of the crop to the lab to get results back.
So far, I have really enjoyed working at the Aurora Coop this summer. The team I work with are great people who are always willing to help me out in any way I need. I have learned so much in just this first month, and I can’t wait to see what I will learn next. As the crop continues to grow, we will continue to do our best to give it everything it needs to yield as much as possible in the end, which also happens to give me another opportunity to learn something new.