Weed Warriors Battle

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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University of Guelph student Isabelle Aicklen tries to answer farmer questions about weed control from Jenny Schweigert (right) during a national weed science contest. Her answers are being judged by Gary Schwarzlose, Bayer. (Progressive Farmer image by Pamela Smith)

Talk about a war on weeds. In late July, 248 students and 150 volunteers and coaches met to test weed knowledge skills. The 2019 North American Weed Science Contest was held at the BASF Midwest Research Farm, Midwest Ag Research Center of Valent and Klein Farms, near Seymour, Illinois. Nearby Bayer and Corteva employees
helped out.

The contest allows weed science and agronomy students to apply their knowledge in a practical setting. Teams and individuals participate in four categories: weed identification, sprayer calibration, herbicide identification and farmer problem-solving.

Jenny Schweigert was one of the real-life farmers testing contestants during the problem-solving event. A judge looks on while participants troubleshoot production problems and suggest solutions to the role-playing farmer.

"The depth of knowledge held by the students is impressive," she says. Schweigert, who farms in central Illinois, says she may have gained as much as the students.

"It gave me a better understanding of the retail side of agriculture and a better appreciation for the complexities of herbicide damage," she says.

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