Albion ag students harvest first crop at land lab

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Albion agriculture science students Allyson Irwin, left, and Basilia Casanova walk across a corn field today after riding in a combine with Alan Panek from Panek Farms.

ALBION – Six months ago on a warm May 22, Albion students planted their first crop of corn on a 5-acre land lab.

Students have kept a watchful eye on the crop since then, with the ag science class out frequently to measure the plants and count the kernals. Part of the corn was used as a maze for elementary students to explore last month.

Today, on a windy Nov. 18, the crop was harvested. Eighteen students took turns riding in a combine with Alan Panek, an Albion graduate. His brother Phil, another recent grad and Albion FFA alumni member, gave students a ride in a grain cart.

The machines are outfitted with GPS controls that will give measurements on crop yields. Students will compare the yields for different seed varieties and the spacing between the plants and rows.

Alan Panek drives the combine over a 5-acre land lab of corn. Albion student Elizabeth Bentley is in the combine with Panek. Students also rode in a grain cart during today’s harvest. Panek Farms supplied most of the equipment for today’s harvest. New Holland also brought along a demo combine to help with the project.

Panek Farms also is farming 63 acres next to the land lab. The farm harvested that corn today. Panek agreed to turn over any profits from the crop to the school district to support FFA and the ag program.

The farm will share its financial data for growing the crop and its revenue for the 63 acres. Back in May it looked like corn might fetch $6 a bushel. But that price has fallen to just above $4, giving students in education in the commodity price roller-coaster, especially in recent years.

Zach Neilans climbs the ladder and gets ready for his turn in the combine.