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Graceland University Test Plot a Valuable Learning Opportunity for Students

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October 21, 2020

A John Deere tractor parked at Graceland's ag business test plot

Graceland University’s agricultural business test plot is located just east of the Lamoni campus and provides many opportunities for Graceland students to gain hands-on learning that supports their academic work in the agricultural business, business administration and accounting majors.

Students visit the plot throughout the year as a way to learn about crop production and soil management. They have had the opportunity to perform financial analysis of the test plots and invest the proceeds in farmer appreciation, scholarship fundraising, Graceland’s ag dinner and FFA events on campus.

Graceland’s agricultural business club funds some of the input costs related to the plot, but there is a lot of community support that leads to the success of the plot and the educational aspects Graceland students gain from it.

United Farmers’ Cooperative (UFC) has provided the corn and soybean seed, and they have applied fertilizer and herbicides. Local pilot Jordan Omstead has donated the application of cover crop and fungicide. Local farmers Dick and Bonnie Ballantyne have provided hay management and equipment. For the harvest season, AgriVision Equipment has lent Graceland a John Deere tractor, and Wholeness Investments LLC, owned by ag business club sponsor and Associate Professor of Business Max Pitt ‘86 and Cindy Harper Pitt ’86, has lent the use of the Drill CombineTM to test drilling cover crop while harvesting the corn and the soybeans.

“Graceland’s agricultural business club, United Farmers’ Cooperative, AgriVision, Wholeness Investments, the Ballantyne family and Mickelson Farms have all been participants in the success of Graceland’s test plots over the years,” shared Pitt. “Graceland students have the opportunity learn the outcomes of yield-testing, no-till farming, cover-crop applications and financial reality of production agriculture.”

Dain Young, a current Graceland student who participated in an internship with UFC last summer, served as a crop scout this summer and inspected the test plots for ongoing management. He plans to work for UFC after graduation in May and had this to say. “UFC gave me the opportunity to be more directly involved with the test plots – from the planting to the biweekly scouting and all the way to the starting of the harvest. This opportunity allows me to further my knowledge, as well as the relationship the ag business club has with United Farmers’ Cooperative.”

Pitt added, “Our relationship with UFC has been strong with existing management from the time we started the agricultural business major in 2010. Now, with former Assistant Professor of Accounting Brandi Shay joining in the executive management at UFC, we look forward to a growing relationship that continues to benefit agricultural business, business administration and accounting graduates from Graceland.”

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