2021 SUMMER INTERNS: Payton Stevens

Aurora Cooperative 3 years ago

My name is PAYTON STEVENS, and I am from Polk Nebraska. I grew up on my family farm outside of Hordville where we raise corn, soybeans, cattle, and buffalo. I am currently going to be a senior at Concordia University. There I am studying Business Administration with a concentration in Agribusiness. I am also part of the Concordia Business Club and on the football team. In my free time I enjoy hunting, fishing, and watching football.

To start off the summer we spent three days at the main office in Aurora learning about Aurora Cooperative and all the divisions within the coop. Within these three days we also got the chance to visit Owners Acres and the Ethanol Plant to learn about their operations. Once our training was over, I jumped right into the Real Farm Research internship almost immediately.

The first day I got there I went with the crew up to Ravenna to get one of our test plots planted. I spent the first day learning and watching how to dump packets of seed into the planter. The next day Doug Hettle and I were headed to Wilcox to plant another plot. For about three weeks straight I was planting full time with the crew seven days a week.  This was a lot of fun and really an eye-opening experience just seeing how many test plots that Real Farm Research has. While planting I was able to visit plot locations in Wray, Colorado, Atwood Kansas, Traer Iowa, and many others.

Once planting was over, we continued going to all the locations applying our specific applications and treatments to the plots as well as roguing out weeds. Many plots have protocols specifically saying that no herbicide treatments can be applied therefore manually taking out the weeds was necessary. Aside from applying applications there was many other tasks to get done for the plots. We started taking stand counts of the corn in the middle two rows of each plot as well as setting stakes in front of every plot to distinguish each plot. We were also taking soil samples in some plots that required it to test for nitrogen, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals. Tissue samples were also needed to be taken from the outside two rows at V4-5 from several plots. This internship reminded me that hard work pays off and showed me a lot about what the real world is going to look like.

Other than Real Farm Research, I was able to go down to Minden for three days and be with the aerial aviation crew. While I was in Minden, I got the chance to see something that really interests me.  As soon as I got there, I met Paul Stellato and he took me around and showed me the whole operation. Paul taught me how to create maps for the planes to fly, how to stage the maps, and how to close out fields once they are sprayed. I also was able to see the loading crew load planes for a day. While I was loading planes, they taught me how to read the list of applications that needed to go in the plane at the correct rates. Being in Minden for these three days taught me a lot and might be something that I would like to pursue once I graduate.