Subsurface Drip Line Irrigation

Being from central Illinois I see many row crop fields with irrigation. the most common style of irrigation in my county is a center pivot irrigation system. This is common in my county because we sit on the Mahomet-Teays aquifer, it is easy for farmers to access water with wells then pump the needed amount of water for the crops.

Another form of irrigation is drip line irrigation. this form of irrigation is common on vegetable farms. The irrigation is buried a set number of feet beneath the soil. Subsurface irrigation is plastic lines buried usually every other row to provide a controlled amount of water. The plastic line has holes that place the water where the roots are able to reach is. This water is pumped from a well. The well is dug on the edge of the field and

sub-surface-drip a large line runs perpendicular to the rows on the edge of the field and smaller lines run parallel to the rows. Subsurface irrigation is an efficient way to provide water to crops.

If farmers were to not irrigate their field they would have a potential yield loss. The plants would most likely be fine unless they are in areas that have little rainfall throughout the summer.

A key reason that subsurface irrigation is efficient is that there is no water evaporation. Since the water is being provided under the soil the water does not evaporate into the air and no water is wasted. Also, farmers are able to pump needed nutrients through the lines to the crops.

Some disadvantages of subsurface irrigation are animals chewing the lines, lines busting and tillage. The lines are plastic they can be easily damaged by the pressure of the water being pumped through. Also, animals like ground squirrels will chew through the lines causing issues with the lines. Tillage can also be an issue considering you want the water to be easily accessed by the root system. This means the lines can only be placed so deep in the soil making it harder to till fields with subsurface irrigation.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the installation of subsurface drip line can run from $500 to $800 dollars an acre. In areas that the groundwater may be hard to reach or the aquifers are too deep to access, this system may not be the best. It is on the higher side of price per acre. Many vegetable farms will use this system because they are not covering as many acres, so it is more efficient for them to use.


My Name is Derrick Rabbe, I am a from Mason City, IL. I am a junior studying Agricultural business at Western Illinois University.


Veterinary Feed Directive and what it means


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In the last few years, it has been nearly impossible to open and read any Ag news
publication and not see an article about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the changes by the Food and Drug Administration. When the Veterinary Feed Directive went into effect in 2017, it impacted nearly everyone in the livestock industry. Depending on whom you ask this has been a good and a bad thing.

Typically, the new regulations are not well received by the producer, who has been using
these over the counter products for years in an effort to raise healthy animals. As of January 1, 2017, every livestock producer who uses an antibiotic that is considered important to human health, such as penicillin or tetracycline, now has to comply. The regulation covers not only antimicrobial drugs administered via feed, but also water, but does not include injections. This also covers animals not intended for food consumption (AVMA, 2016).  This rule change has even affected every retailer that sells these products and every veterinarian as well as any feed mill.

In short, a veterinarian now has to see the animal and diagnose it before the animal can receive the antibiotic. The feed provider keeps a record of every sale that contains antibiotics. This does not leave out the feed manufacturers, who are busy reformulating much of their feed and mineral products to comply. This regulation affects literally every person in the production of livestock in one way or another. The livestock producer is certainly the person who will feel the biggest impact from this mandate. As they are the last person in the line of production who cares for these animals, the producer has the ultimate responsibility to take care of their animals to the best of their ability. This mandate takes control of freely feeding antibiotics out of the hands of the producers, and puts this responsibility on the backs of the veterinarians.  By doing this the vet-to-client relationship has strengthened immensely. The feeding practices of producers are being forced to change also. The antibiotic is no longer to be fed as a preventative feed, to keep the cattle healthy, but rather as a prescription feed, to be fed after the animal is already ill. This is hard for livestock operators to see, because as a producer, the main goal is to keep the animals as healthy as you can at all times. Now instead of preventing illness and keeping the herd from suffering, the producer must wait until an animal is ill to have a veterinarian come to the farm and diagnose and prescribe the use of antibiotics. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more of a golden rule that a livestock producer lives by; the VFD is going against this time old tradition.



According to the VFD final rule, a producer’s veterinarian will fill out the form,
specifying the farm and animals to be treated, the drug to be used, its feeding rate, and the duration of treatment. The veterinarian will also indicate an expiration date on the VFD, which can’t exceed six months. Some drug labels may allow for a number of refills.
It will function similarly as when you go to your doctor because you are sick. Your
medical doctor then writes a prescription that you take to your local pharmacy. However, when the VFD drug category was created, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the Act) made it clear that VFD drugs are not prescription drugs. This category was created to provide veterinary supervision without invoking state pharmacy laws for prescription drugs that were unworkable for the distribution of medicated feed (FDA, 2015).
Once the producer has secured the copy of the VFD, they will have to show proof of the veterinary approval to the feed salesmen or whomever they are purchasing their feed from. After the feed salesman provides the producer with the appropriate feed additive, the feed salesmen will have to keep a copy of the VFD, along with a sales receipt of sale of the product in his or her personal store record.
This puts an added expense on the farmer, having to pay for a vet visit or farm call along with the paperwork required for these essential antibiotics. It also places a toll on the small town rural veterinarian who is short staffed.

This also puts added pressure and liability on to the veterinarian, because they are now responsible to formalize this very simple task. If a vet does not actually see the animal that they are prescribing the antibiotics for, they are then breaking the law. In addition, the VFD limits extra label use. “Extralabel use” (ELU) is defined in FDA’s regulations as actual or intended use of a drug in an animal in a manner that is not in accordance with the approved labeling. For example, feeding the animals a VFD for a duration of time that is different from the duration specified on the label, feeding a VFD formulated with a drug level that is different from what is specified on the label, or feeding a VFD to an animal species different than what is specified on the label would all be considered extralabel uses. Extralabel use of medicated feed, including medicated feed containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug, is not permitted” (FDA, 2015). In some ways, this ties a veterinarian’s hands because the minor species of animals have very few labeled products available to use.
This issue is not only of concern to the people who are feeding and selling the product; it will also raise many questions for the companies who manufacture the products. Companies like Zoetis, a drug company and Purina a feed manufacturing company, have to change their whole supply of products. Now that the producer cannot buy a product freely, these companies are limited in what they are able to produce. The VFD forces these companies to discontinue some of their products that were conveniently combining antibiotics with other types of feed.

The impact of the VFD was first seen in common over the counter products sold in feed
stores. Medicated milk replacer was one of the first feed-grade antibiotic products to fall under the Veterinary Feed Directive. Typically, after the initial feedings, a dairy calf is placed on milk replacer, which is often medicated. When the new rules started, for any dairy farmer to put a calf on medicated milk replacer, he is now required to get a VFD from his veterinarian, fill it at a distributor who has registered that specific prescription with the FDA and ensured every qualification of the directive is met, then keep the records of that transaction for two years. Instead, most companies that manufacture milk replacer have changed their formulations to make it over the counter ready, without antibiotics.

So, what happens when the dairy producer suddenly has a calf that requires medicated
milk replacer over a long holiday weekend? It certainly isn’t the same-day process of
walking into the local farm store and buying it off the shelf; the dairy farmer isn’t able to call distributors with last-minute requests under the new regulations.

One can see that the final ruling from the Veterinary Feed Directive is affecting everyone in the livestock industry and will continue to due so for years to come. While the VFD is not a new thing it has certainly made some changes to the way people are used to doing things. This regulation is all in attempt to meet the ongoing concern and fear that the public has towards the use of feeds containing antibiotics in livestock production. Even though this ruling has come with much discussion and debate, the end result was an implementation date of January 1, 2017 (Zoetis, 2016).

A little about me

320 picture (2)  My name is Luke Daniels, I am a junior at Western Illinois University majoring in ag science with a minor in animal science.  I grew up on a small farm near Shelbyville Illinois raising beef cattle and quarter horses.  This is where my love for animal agriculture was started.  I am a member of a few organizations on campus a few of those being Hoof and Horn club, Ag Vocators, and Lutheran Student Fellowship.  Western Illinois has been a great learning environment for me and I am thankful for all the people who have helped me along my journey.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for your time.


American Veterinary Medical Association. 2016. The 123’s of VFD’s. Available at:

Food and Drug Administration 2015. (Released December 17, 2015). Fact Sheet: Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule and Next Steps, FDA. Available at:

Zoetis. 2016. Helping you understand the changes. Available at:


Curless Flying Service & Farm Air Inc.

Curless Flying Service is not just a aerial application company. It is also a dealer of Air Tractor planes, parts and services called Farm Air Inc. Harley is the only Farm Air operation for the midwest. This being the only one we have a lot of planes that  come and go. From that being other Agriculture pilots coming to get their plane getting, parts and or a 100 hour inspection and or annuals. The hanger that we call Farm Air is where our

Farm Air Inc. is where planes come for service


planes are stored as well as customers planes if they need to stay over night. As you can see in the picture below it is a very large hanger that can hold many planes. If you would like more information about Farm Air Inc. you can go to this link (

Mid-May to early August are what I look forward to after the spring semester of college is over with. For the past five summers I have been apart of the loading crew and maintenance at Curless Flying Service. Curless Flying Service is located in Astoria, IL, and it is owned by Harley Jo Curless.

 A typical day before we start to get into the busy part of the season will consist of maintenance on the load trailers and as well as the planes. For the load trailer maintenance we go over all the pumps to make sure they can get the chemical from our mixing tanks, to the plane without a seal of something going bad, and also to look over the hose we use to make sure there are no cracks or holes. 

When we start to get busy, usually with that time being the last week of June through August. During this time we will work from the main airport at Astoria from there we go to Canton, Macomb, Beardstown, Pittsfield and Quincy, IL. That is just the Illinois airports we also go into Missouri and make stops at Mexico, Bowling Green, Canton, Lewistown. Memphis and Hannibal, MO. We will occasionally make a stop on Iowa at the Keokuk Airport. From which these are the airports we spread fertilizer and spray chemicals out of. When the busy season is in full swing a typical day starts by arriving at work around 5am and will not be back home till 9:30pm or 10:00pm. We work seven days a week during this time, we have a little saying that, “We do not have a boss, the corn, soybeans, bugs and mother nature is our boss now.”


While working for Curless Flying Service I have learned about responsibility, leadership and hard work. This past summer I was given the task of making sure all of our work from the Hannibal, MO airport was done correctly from mixing the chemicals myself, making sure the company (like FS, CPS and MFA) we were spraying for had the right product and show up on time. This is also where the leadership comes into play, we had two new workers who had never been around this type of work. So I would have to teach them how everything works and to also make sure they are doing them right. There is a lot of money that can be wasted if a mistake happens that costing the company hundreds or thousands of dollars. Hard work has been instilled in me from a young age but this job is truly hard work, with all the hours you work and all the traveling involved.

My name is Seth Kessler, I am a junior at Western Illinois University. I will be graduating in the spring of 2019, with a bachelor degree Agriculture Business.  I will be working for Curless Flying Service for the summer of 2018.



Women in Agriculture



When you think of agriculture, what are some of your first thoughts? Mine are livestock, passion, farming, hard work, long hours, and male farmers. Most do not think about women within this industry. We, women, are rapidly changing this thought process for many people.

Women are becoming more visible within the agriculture community. Today, 31% of farmers are women. This number has increased from the 14% that was recorded in 2012. Female farmers are leery of assuming the title as a farmer. They feel as if it is a man’s role to hold and many do not feel deserving of the title.

I am frequently asked why I chose this field to study. It always gives me a sense of pride to answer this question. I feel as if the agriculture industry has some of the best people in the world working within it. These are the people that care enough about others to provide their next meal while working long hours for little pay. There are many qualities that this industry holds that I myself value, hard work, dedication, accountability, and wisdom are a few.

Through my educational career, I have had the opportunity to meet many inspirational women within agriculture. In high school, I took many ag classes taught by Jennifer Waters. It was then that she sparked my interest in agriculture. With her passion and drive, she has become a role model for many people including myself. After transferring to Western, I decided to rush for Sigma Alpha. This is the professional agriculturalIMG_0455
sorority here at WIU. Becoming a sister within this sorority has allowed me to network and gain knowledge from young women with the same interests as me. I am fortunate to have built these relationships with great girls that I will have forever.

Now more than ever, there are many opportunities for women to become involved in agriculture. The Women Changing the Face of Agriculture is a large conference held every year to show young girls this. Many ag businesses come as well as guest speakers for the girls to interact with. I have attended this conference multiple times and each time has been a valuable experience. Being able to learn from and listen to women that have been in agriculture for many years is profitable for ladies who want to become involved. These women are inspiring young ladies, like myself to get out in the fields without fear of judgment.

With many ways to be connected within agriculture today, women are contributing to the success of the industry, more than we thought was possible.

About the Author:

Hello, my name is April Leinberger and I am a Junior at Western Illinois University. I am currently studying Agriculture Science. I am involved in Sigma Alpha Professional 300-4850-072.jpgAgricultural Sorority, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Ag Vocators. Though I did not grow up with a farm background, I am submerging myself into this industry. Choosing to attend
WIU was one of the best decisions that I have made within my educational career. I have made lifelong friends and gained invaluable education from this University. Next May, I will be graduating and taking the knowledge I have learned throughout my time here and applying it to the workforce.

To learn more about how to get involved visit these sites: &

(I own all photos above)

Crop Production Services: Leaders in Retail



CPS picture


Overview of Industry

As many of us small-town kids that come from predominantly rural or agriculture-based areas can attest to, Crop Production Services (CPS) is a very popular ag retailer.  CPS is the largest retailer in the country that focuses on agriculture product sales.

They are located in many small towns all over the United States, with their divisional or corporate offices in bigger cities.  CPS focuses on the production, sales, and application of agriculture inputs such as seed, chemical, and fertilizer.

Their mission is, “We are committed to being the leading provider of agricultural inputs in each of our markets. We will attract and retain outstanding employees by motivating and rewarding them for their accomplishments in providing exceptional service to our valued customers.”  

CPS prides itself on its value and loyalty to it’s customers as well as supporting farmers and agriculturists of any shape and size.  They also support the fact that farmers are the leaders as environmentalists and strive to be stewards of natural resources.  With a strong tie to agriculture, CPS is committed to upholding agricultural tradition.

History of Company

Crop Production Services itself was established in 1983, but its predecessor companies started operating around 1860.  There has been may changes since the start of agricultural retail.  Some of the major retailers that have been acquired by CPS have been Western Farm Service in 1995, United Agri Products (UAP) in 2008, and Royster Clark.

CPS has had predecessor companies for over a century and without them they would not be the leaders they are today.  As of last year, under their parent company of Agrium, Crop Production Services had 326 facilities and satellites in 24 states East of the Rocky Mountains.  They also have 21 divisional offices, 44 terminals, and 12 distribution centers.

Newest Technologies and the Future

With their former focuses primarily on seed, chemical and fertilizer, CPS has evolved into even more of an agricultural powerhouse.  They are also in the industry of custom application, agronomy, and precision agriculture along with their original focuses.

Their newest technologies have come in their products, services, and programs used to implement farm services.  Crop protection technology done through research and development is becoming

cps tractor view

more of a focus.  Improved chemistry in full range herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are being tested and monitored all year around.  The application of these pesticides is becoming more unique with more efficient sprayers that are ran by GPS, that map out all aspects of the field in use.


Also, the use of fertilizers and nutrition is becoming more industrialized.  Their patented ESN Smart Nitrogen is becoming popular.  This coated fertilizer delivers benefit to growers in the aspect of a predictable and reliable source of nitrogen.  ESN maximizes nitrogen use efficiency, boosts yield potential and helps minimize impact on the environment.

CPS has also launched their precision agriculture program called Echelon.  This precision platform allows the grower to quickly maneuver through information like planning, soil mapping, applied data, and yield results. The CPS crop advisors then work with growers to apply variable rate seed and nutrient prescription.

Along with the current improvements in technology, CPS’s parent company Agrium just merged with Nutrien Retail, which is a nutrient mining company that focuses on  Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash and retail.  Now part of the growing family of Crop Production Services, in the near future everyone will see CPS with a new name; Nutrien Ag Solutions.

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How This Relates to Me

As I will be graduating this May, I was lucky enough to land a job with Crop Production Services (Nutrien Ag Solutions).  I will be hired on as a divisional crop consultant sales trainee.  This will be in the West Central, Illinois and Missouri Division, based out of Hannibal, Missouri.  I will report to all of the locations within the district while promoting and training employees and farmers on the Echelon precision platform.  I will be doing this along with research trials and sales training in the retail sector.  After my year as a trainee, the vision is to become a sales manager at any of the locations within the division.  I am looking forward to this great opportunity to prove myself and seeing where my future goes within this top-tier company and the ag sales world.

About the Author

My name is Austin Plogger, I am a senior here at Western Illinois University.  I am currentlprofessional headshoty pursuing a Bachelors degree in Ag Business, with a minor in Finance, and will be graduating this May.  I am from Greenfield, Illinois and will be joining the divisional sales team with Crop Production Services in West Central Illinois and Eastern Missouri.





Little Goats, Big Deal

If there is one thing you need to know about me, it is that Nigerian Dwarf Goats are my life! When I think about what motivates me to talk and engage with others, it is frequently on a goat related topic. The journey I have taken pursuing my passion for goats over the past decade has shaped me.

I currently belong to one of the best families I could ever imagine, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG) community. My association with this community started back when I was in high school when my family moved from the rural town of Kirkwood, IL to a small hobby farm just outside of Galesburg, IL.

il st fair 2013
Photo by: Ann Alecock

This was a time of transition that helped to shape my personal identity and allowed me for the first time to begin to know what I truly valued. The transition to the farm was great for my personal identity because when you grow up in a small rural town you learn early on from interacting with others in the community the importance peers place on showing livestock at the county fair. So, when my family and I moved to a farm I knew I wanted to show some sort of livestock; I knew it was what farm kids did. That spring the county 4-H club that my friends and I belonged to held a dairy goat workshop. I became quite excited about going to this workshop because very few of my peers knew anything about goats. When I talked it over with my parents and got their okay to go to the workshop they placed a few conditions on my participation. I had to call and register for the clinic and ask for directions to where the event was scheduled to be held. This was quite the challenge for me; I was terrified to call and talk to someone I had never met before on the phone and was not the best at taking directions for locations located in rural settings. Little did I know that the person I was calling on the phone would soon become one of my lifelong friends and a true mentor for me in the Nigerian Dwarf Goat community.


I spent several hours a week during that summer volunteering at my mentor’s farm learning and caring for her herd of goats through hands-on experiences. She showed me how to care for the goats–from clipping hooves, to shaving hair for shows, to disbudding new born babies. When my summer experience was over my mentor presented me with my first Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG), who still lives on my family farm today. Over the next couple of years, I continued to learn about goats from my mentor and through additional reading/research I conducted. I soon began to travel with my mentor and her daughters showing NDGs all over the central United States. By the end of the second year showing with my mentor and her family, I had purchased a few does to add to my own show string. During my first show season, of owning my own goats, my small herd did well as we placed middle in of the class at most shows. Our final show of the season was the Illinois State Fair. Walking into the ring that morning to the senior dry doe class, little did I know that my doe would be selected for reserve grand champion. I was filled with joy, all my hard work had paid off.

cnsfarms sirius black

Prior to my senior year in high school, my mentor, her daughters and I decided to start our own dairy goat club called Land of Lincoln Nigerian Dwarf Goat Club (LOLNDGC). Our new club was designed with families in mind. At LOLNDGC it is not about who wins in the show ring, it is about being with family, having fun, and learning about the breed. It is amazing for me to think that a chance phone call all those years ago would lead to the development of a new community of people gathered together to share in a common experience and love for goats. Today our club has families from all over Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.

During my sophomore year of college, I spent the summer at a medium scale NDG operation in Georgia. During my time in Georgia I learned a great deal on how to handle and work goats by myself. My supervisor at the time stressed to me the importance of learning how to disbud and other tasks by yourself, because you will not always have someone to help you. One of my favorite things to do in Georgia was feeding baby kids 3 times a day. When you walk into a building filled with 35 plus baby goats it will make even the hardest of hearts melt.

Soon after returning from Georgia with the help of my mentor I obtained my Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) testing license. This license allows me to travel and test other people’s goat herd for milk quality. The test gives feedback to the breeder about their animals; SCC (Somatic Cell Count), Butterfat, Protein, Total Solids, MUN (Milk Urea Nitrogen), and Lactose. Through milk tests animals can earn milk stars based on the results of the tests.

Photo by: Karen Goodchild

As Lincoln Land Nigerian Dairy Goat Club (LOLNDGC) was growing the club hosted more shows and clinics during the year. Our small club soon grew to a club that hosted 3 main show weekends a year with an average of 5 different shows being held in one weekend. In the summer of 2016 the LOLNDGC was asked to hold the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association judges training in Macomb, IL. During the 3 days of intense training we studied and talked deeply about what the NDGA looked for when judging. After the third day we took a writing test over the judging manual as well as had to place 4 classes of goats. I am proud to say that I passed the training and am happy to represent NDGA as a judge. Since obtaining my license I’ve had the opportunity to judge in Oklahoma, Illinois and Iowa. I was not only able to judge Nigerian shows, I have also judged county fairs and other goat breed association shows. In 2016 I decided to give back to the organization that has given so much to me over the years. I decided to join the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association Board of Directors. Currently I am the youth chair for this amazing organization. With the help of the other board members I continue to learn and gain knowledge about the goats as well as the organization.

topsy milk
Photo by: Hillary Rabe

My journey with goats has been clearly shaped by the values I hold important and the communities I choose to belong to. The extended family that I belong to today is larger than I could have ever imagined and helps to motivate me to learn and achieve more knowing I have their support.




Want to know more?

Land of Lincoln Nigerian Dwarf Goat Club:
Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association:


head shotMy name is Cori Sargent and I’m from Cameron, Illinois. I am currently a senior here at WIU and I’m majoring in Ag Science with a minor in Animal Science. Who would have guessed that a 4-H workshop would have turned into a passion.

What a Smarticle Particle!

Most of the time when you think about the point in a person’s life where they make their biggest discoveries, you usually think they are around the middle of their lifetime.  This age is the point where they have gained enough experience that they have finally been able to develop that big idea, right?  Actually, that may not always be the case.  Some of our biggest ideas that have taken off in our society like Facebook, Apple, and Windows were all developed by students who were completing their undergraduate degree.  What would our world be like if universities and other organizations promoted the ideas that college students think of?  Here at Western Illinois University, we do just that!

Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day

The Centennial Honors College hosts the Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day every year and this year it was held on April 18, 2018.  It has been a staple event for the college since it became an annual event in 2003.  The day is named after Dr. Helm who was the director of the college during the time that the research day began.  It is open to every student on campus whether they are members of the Centennial Honors College or not.  There are three presentation categories that students can be judged in and win a monetary award for 1st through 3rd place.  They include performance, poster, and podium presentations which offer students different ways to present their research and information.

Performance presentations occur in the morning of Undergraduate Research Day and are used as a way to educate others about the history of the fine arts.  These performances are a way for students who are majoring in fine arts like music and theater to showcase items they have learned in classes while also educating the public.

Poster presentations take place during the middle of the day where students present the research they have either just started or completed during the previous year.  They will present their information on posters which show why the student is completing the research and why it is important.  The posters are on display for the public to walk around and view while also being able to hear summaries given by the students that explain their projects.  Judges will listen to their presentations and then select one project from each department to be judged in a separate contest to name the best poster.

After a long day of presentations, the students began tearing down their posters but every table was full of posters at one point in time!


Podium presentations occur in the afternoon and consist of a PowerPoint presentation and speech to a panel of judges if they wish and any public who wish to watch.  The presentations can be about anything they want to talk about like past discoveries or other topics.

Most of the presenters are Centennial Honors College members who are conducting research to complete their requirements for Departmental Honors.  Members have the opportunity to earn Departmental Honors by completing a number of in-course projects which usually involves them doing a project that goes above and beyond what the rest of the class is doing as well as a thesis before they graduate.  This award is presented at graduation if the student completes all of the requirements.  Even if the student is not a member, they can still present during the research day, and it offers every student the same benefits no matter their membership.

Agriculture Involvement

As stated earlier, anyone can present during Undergraduate Research Day as long as they have a faculty sponsor working with them on their research.  There are many agriculture students who participate even if they aren’t Centennial Honors students and this year’s research day was no exception.  Out of the 132 posters on display, 16 posters were presented by 22 agriculture students, and were mentored by 1 of 5 different agriculture professors as either a requirement for a class or as a Centennial Honors student.

Take Kelsey Bergman for example.  She presented 3 posters during the day, one being an in-course honors project, another being her honors thesis, and the third poster fulfilling her requirement for her Weed Science class.

Kelsey Bergman standing in front of her two posters on display during Undergraduate Research Day

Her project topics and abstracts ranged from “Soybean Yield as Affected by Planting Date and Seed Treatment” with faculty adviser Dr. Mark Bernards, “Breeding ALS Resistance into Winter Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.)” mentored by Dr. Winthrop Phippen, and finally “Dicamba Volatility and Weed Control Efficacy as Influenced by Rain-free Period” which she completed with fellow group members Miranda Wright and Courtney Forney and was overseen by Dr. Bernards.

L-R: Courtney Forney, Miranda Wright, and Kelsey Bergman standing in front of their research poster entitled “Dicamba Volatility and Weed Control Efficacy as Influenced by Rain-free Period”

Another project that was very successful was Allyson Rumler’s research poster entitled “Waterhemp Seed Production and Seed Viability as Affected by Sublethal Dicamba Dose” which was sponsored by Dr. Bernards.  Allyson is not an honors student, but instead has a very unique reason why she completed her research.  She spent a summer working for Dr. Bernards as a research assistant.  During the summer, she was asked to complete a project and from there it grew into the research poster she presented that day.  Allyson was chosen as the Agriculture Department poster winner and then went and competed against the other department winners later in the day where she was awarded 2nd place out of the whole university!

Allyson Rumler standing in front of her research poster after being chosen as the Agriculture Department winner.

To find the list of abstracts of every presenter and to learn more about these projects, click this link which will take you to the Centennial Honors College 2018 Abstract list.

So Why Do It?

Many students and faculty all agree that they see the a benefit of Undergraduate Research Day as well as completing research in general, but they differ depending on who you are talking to.  Kelsey believes that the biggest benefit of completing research and presenting at the event is to gain experience conducting research and then learning to communicate it to someone else.  Allyson said that by doing the project, it has helped her change the way she learns and thinks.  She now thinks about things differently and has learned to question things and grow her knowledge even more than she would have without completing the project.

The professors see many benefits for their students as well.  Dr. Phippen has had students present their projects at Undergraduate Research Day from its beginning because it teaches students what a Master’s or Doctorate program would be like.  He also believes it is important for agriculture students because we come from a very hands-on discipline.  By allowing students to complete research, he is helping them prepare for their future in order to set themselves apart from others and to grow their education even more than what they could learn from a textbook.

Dr. Bernards believes that students gain new opportunities by completing research that they can’t get from just sitting in a classroom.  He believes that since students are earning a Bachelor in Science when they graduate, if they complete research it helps expand their education by teaching them to think critically.

Dr. Richard Hardy, the current director of the Centennial Honors College, described why he believes Undergraduate Research Day is a positive asset to Western Illinois University:

Everything starts in the mind of one person; therefore, someone had to create everything.  No one has a monopoly on brains and great ideas can stem from everywhere.  Creativity is best done when you are young.  Therefore, we need to showcase what our students are doing and provide ways for them to get feedback which can lead others to discoveries, unleashing unlimited potential.

Undergraduate Research Day offers students many opportunities to gain more than what can be taught in a classroom.  Hopefully, more of us in the agriculture department can take advantage of these opportunities and discover the next big thing for the industry.

About the Author

Professional Senior PictureHi everyone!  My name is Nichole Miller and I am a junior Ag Science student with minors in Agriculture Economics, Agronomy, and Plant Breeding here at Western Illinois University.  I have also been a member of the Centennial Honors College for three years now, have completed 3 in-course honors projects, and presented at Undergraduate Research Day once.  I am from a very small town called Carlinville, IL, where I lived and worked on my family farm until I started school.  I am very passionate about agriculture and the future it offers not only me, but other students as well.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and I want to thank you for taking the time to read it!

Photo Credit: Featured Image-Centennial Honors College