Highland Community College literally expanding into the field for research

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Highland Community College is expanding into the field of research…literally, as they hosted a field day in Freeport to showcase the results of their soybean research program.

The college has 10 acres north of campus that serves as a land lab. That’s where students get hands-on experience with crop production and research design.

On Wednesday, they were studying results of a season-long soybean project.

“[It’s a] simple study for the students, to look at seeding rates and fungicide and seed treatments,” said Phillip Alberti, from the University of Illinois extension. “To really give them an opportunity to see some of the different seed treatments that are out there. But, most importantly, we want to give them an avenue to do research and to find the most economical way to produce soybeans.”

Students get to see results of the study in person and hear from professionals in the agriculture field, along with specialists from the University of Illinois Extension.

Student Paige Fuchs said, “They talked about different practices that can be used in agriculture to help better their yields and prevent pests from coming into the fields. So, you learned quite a bit, because they get their hands on with what they do.”

Specialists from throughout the state talked to students about soybean insect, weeds, disease, and production issues.

“I hope that they just are able to see all of the research that goes into continual improvement of crop production, and all of the people that are out there that can help them with their own farms,” said instructor Monica Pierce.

Interacting with professionals outside of the classroom could be beneficial to students in the future.

“As they go forth with their careers, those connections are going to be really important to them,” said Nathan Kleczewski, from the U of I Department of Crop Sciences. “They’re going to have more interaction with people in those positions, where they might get a job. Or, they might know somebody who might be looking for somebody, and so, I think it’s a great opportunity for students.”

Highland Community College plans to expand its research plot to 20 acres next year.

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