"I hope to learn more about how soybeans grow and how weather affects them," said high school senior Audreonna Taylor as she stood in a dimly lit equipment shed near Mexico, Mo., on a drizzly day.
Taylor is the daughter of a second-generation farmer with a 1,000-acre row crop operation, but said she is relatively unfamiliar with soybeans.
"We've planted some soybeans in the past, but he mostly plants corn and wheat," she said.
Taylor was one of 14 FFA members who took part in a Sept. 14 "Pod Patrol" event, led by soybean farmer Dan Pehle and Asgrow agronomist Susan Brakhane.
Brakhane said the focus of the day would, in fact, be on getting higher yields from soybeans, and how weather plays a role in that. As the four teams of FFA members prepared to go out into the field and scout, she asked the students to keep an eye out for four-bean pods and insect feeding as well as examining overall plant health.
Doug Mertens, territory sales manager for Monsanto, said the goal of the event was to spark an interest in young people about agriculture and the impact new technology can have on the industry.
Before long, the students were tramping throughout the damp bean field, ducking down, examining plants, snapping pictures and asking questions.
"They're the future of this industry," Mertens said.
Asgrow agronomist Susan Brakhane and Monsanto sales manager Doug Mertens set up soybean samples for the FFA "Pod Patrol" event.
Insect samples were included in the soybean display. The FFA students were asked to scout for insects as well as count bean pods.
Asgrow agronomist Susan Brakhane explains how soybeans grow and how the dry Missouri summer might have affected development.
FFA students make their way out into event host Dan Pehle's soybean field.
Students worked together in teams to count podfill and examine plant health.
FFA members take a snapshot of a bean pod.
Agronomist Susan Brakhane answers scouting questions from two FFA students.
An FFA member quietly inspects soybean plants. The students were asked to examine the plants for podfill, overall health and insect damage.