The drive between Lone Tree and U.S. Highway 218 is lined with fields. But one field is different from the rest: the Lone Tree FFA Test Plot. Since 2012, Lone Tree FFA members have been learning by doing through the test plot on Highway 22.
Working alongside Stutsman agronomists, students and FFA members have been involved with the plot in various capacities. In May, six students helped plant the five-acre test plot. As a true research plot, the hybrids/varieties planted are ones that our sales team is looking to offer next year.
In previous years, student involvement also included going out in the spring to look at stand counts and judge the quality of products early in the season. While students are on summer break, they are always encouraged to stop by and check on the plot’s progress, but their big event comes in the fall.
Lone Tree FFA members will take the lead and serve as tour guides for their fall field day, held in late September. To help them prepare, our seed manager will work through content and material that the students will then present to fellow members, parents and community members.
Having the test plot as an extension of the classroom also allows students to gain real-world experience during harvest. Just as seed companies would do with their research plots, students will do calculations of their own to determine the success of each hybrid/variety and calculate yield results.
The onsite classroom would not be possible without the help of FFA members and community support. From the land and equipment to inputs and resources, many hands come together to provide this learning opportunity.
“Not only do my wife and I provide the ground, but I get the plot ready for planting,” said Terry Kruse. “Brian and Chris Westfall have always planted it either with a drill or corn planter. Chris harvests the plot if it’s in corn, but this year I’ll harvest it since it’s beans. Then the sale of the grain is donated back to the chapter.”
We’re proud to partner with future agriculturists to provide hands-on learning, give them the seed to put into their test plot and help guide their learning throughout the growing season.
“The test plot is a great way to encourage students to go into agriculture,” said Terry. “Even if they don’t pursue an agricultural career, the opportunity still exposes them to the industry.”