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FFA plants first crop at ‘land lab’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2013 at 12:00 am

5 acres will be used for corn, including a maze

Photos by Tom Rivers – Albion FFA members Jenny McKenna and Aaron Burnside empty a bag of seeds in a corn planter this afternoon.

The FFA planted its first crop this afternoon on its 5-acre land lab along Clarendon Road.

ALBION – Today was truly a ground-breaking celebration for Albion FFA students. With some help from the local ag community, students planted their first crop of corn on a 5-acre “land lab” along Clarendon Road.

The district set aside the 5 acres in September, wanting to give FFA students more hands-on experience in agriculture. They will have 4 acres of corn plots with another acre set aside for a corn maze that will be opened to elementary school students in the fall.

“Our goal today is to learn about the process and how GPS works,” said Jenny McKenna, the FFA president.

She put corn seed donated from Channel into a planter driven by Adam Kirby, a local farmer. Kirby, 24, is a FFA alum. He volunteered to plant the seeds.

Before the planter went to work, FFA students and local farmer Adam Kirby had some last-second tinkering with the machine. Pictured, from left: FFA students Aaron Burnside, Jenny McKenna, Kirby, Riley Kelly and FFA advisor Adam Krenning.

“It’s for a good cause and it helps make people more aware of agriculture,” he said.

Another FFA alum Chris Flansburg secured the donated seed and will run test plots. He will share that knowledge with students.

He is co-owner of BCA Ag Technologies, which uses precision agriculture to help measure seeds and bushels of yields per acre. He will work with students on soil testing, agronomy and pest scouting for the crop.

The FFA also is working with Panek Farms, an Albion farm that planted 63 acres of corn on Saturday next to the land lab. Panek will work with students on growing and selling the crop, and will turn over profits to the school’s agriculture program.

Chris Flansburg, left, and Adam Kirby talk strategy this afternoon before planting corn at the Albion FFA’s land lab. Both are FFA alumni, volunteering with the students.

Adam Krenning, the school’s agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, expects FFA students will share the crop-growing project with biology and other classrooms.

He said the project has already been a big benefit for students, connecting them with local farmers and other ag businesses.

“They’ve been able to build relationships,” Krenning said.

After the corn is harvested in late in the fall, he said the FFA plans to plant some apple trees on a portion of the land lab.

Albion FFA member Aaron Burnside, right, rides in a corn planter with Adam Kirby of Jim Kirby Farms, which worked with the FFA to plant the crop this afternoon.