Southeast Missouri State University students with the Department of Agriculture are currently conducting herbicide trials and research as part of plant science research at the David M. Barton Agricultural Research Center.
The trials and research are part of weed science, soil fertility and plant nutrition courses, said Dr. Michael Aide, professor of agriculture at Southeast. The students are learning how to address weeds present in pastures and develop a management plan. Additionally, students will develop a soil fertility plan specific to the culture of tall fescue, a common grass species.
The research will conclude in mid-December and results will be used to improve agricultural productivity and farm profitability, Aide said. Using appropriate pesticides, fertility assessments, nutrient applications and soil conditioners all contribute to crop production.
The project began with students upgrading a weed management sprayer with new nozzles, a power unit and calibration, a key component of conducting the herbicide trials. Using the updated sprayer, the students recently launched their first herbicides trials in pastures at the Barton Center.
“The students scouted the fields to identify the weeds that are present and then identified the appropriate herbicides to be sprayed,” Aide said. “The students also identified non-chemical methods for weed management.”
Drew McLane, a senior agribusiness major, plant and soil science option, from Ware, Illinois, plans to take the knowledge she gains from this project back to her own family farm. As part of the trials, she’s learned how to calculate and apply the right amount of glyphosate herbicide for weed control on the Barton Center’s pastures.
“The herbicide trials are important to me because I do most of the sprayer applications at my farm, and seeing what works and what doesn’t is very important,” said McLane, who has enjoyed the opportunity to apply what she’s learned in the classroom into the field. “I retain much more information by doing hands-on work such as the herbicide trials. I learn more in five minutes of hands-on work than I do from an hour in a classroom.”
Brendan Tremain, a senior agribusiness major, plant and soil science option, from Bridgeton, Missouri, was responsible for calibrating the sprayer. He participated in scouting the fields and applying the herbicide.
“These trials are important because they are broadening my skills and have advanced my knowledge in the field of agriculture,” Tremain said. “I enjoy helping my classmates and teachers in conquering these noxious weeds before they become a prominent issue in our pasture fields.”
Chase Copeland, a senior agribusiness major, agriculture industry option, from Gerald, Missouri, helped to mix chemicals and apply the herbicide in the fields.
“While classroom teaching teaches me what I need to know for my future career, the hands-on work teaches me how to use the information in a practical setting,” Copeland said. “If we are to use pesticides to solve an issue, such as weeds in a field, we must learn how to properly identify and solve problems.”
“Real-world projects like this that simulate agronomic performance is critical to students moving beyond content mastery in the classroom,” he said. “Experience now prepares students to successfully apply their knowledge in careers after graduation.”