Come along with Jim Shroyer today as he gets to meet a bunch of future farmers – all fourth graders from the Manhattan, Kansas, area – at Kids Ag Day at the Agronomy Farm at Kansas State University. We’ll see them learn the A to Z of Soil Microbiology, climb into a soil pit and get their hands dirty learning about Soil Horizons and see first hand how wind erosion happens at the Wind Tunnel.
(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And normally we’re talking to farmers. But today we’re seeing maybe future farmers learning about and seeing about agriculture here at the Agronomy Farm at Kansas State University. We have local fourth graders, about 300 of them to be exact and we’re learning about the sciences that go into agriculture. So, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Jim) Good morning, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And we’re in luck folks cause today we’re at the Kids Ag Field Day on the Agronomy Farm at Kansas State University. And with us we have our Department Head, Dr. Gary Pierzynski. (Gary) Good morning Jim. (Jim) Renowned soil scientist and Department Head as well. So, not that I’m trying to get any points or anything. But at any rate, Gary, tell us a little bit about this Kids Field Day that we’re having for fourth graders. (Gary) Well, it’s a great event that we have every year. I think this is the 17th or 18th time that we’ve hosted this event and basically what we do is we invited about 300 fourth graders here at the campus to the K-State Agronomy Farm, for a day, a half a day of activities. They’ll have 12 different activities over the course of their time here. Next week we’ll repeat, so in total we’ll bring 600 students in. Fourth grade is an optimal time to expose kids to both science and to agriculture. So, we’re very happy to host them and let ’em know a little bit about science and in particular where their food comes from and how science plays a role in delivering that to them. (Jim) So, agriculture is more than just getting on a tractor and going from point A to point B and planting and harvesting. So, let’s… so tell me a little bit more about the scientists. (Gary) OK, well absolutely it’s more than about driving tractors and plowing the soil. If you look at science and think about basic to applied we scan the entire spectrum. The most basic science at the cellular level at the molecular level all the way to how does that information allow us to make better decisions about what crops to plant, about how the soil can handle that, how the soil supplies nutrients. So, the science is endless in agriculture. (Jim) Yeah, we got A to Z on soil microbiology, erosion, we have the crop scientists, we kinda have it all. Give me, from your observation like I said we’ve been doing this for a number of years now, what do the kids like to do here at the Kids Field Day? (Gary) Well, they definitely like the hands on activities. Things that allow them to do things and perhaps to get their hands dirty, or get their hands on various things. We have a soil pit that is always a perennial favorite. They like to climb down in there and look at the soil horizons. We even have animal science here, which is dissected a test animal. And they like to touch the guts of the animal. It’s a big deal. (Jim) Talk about the feeds the animal eats. (Gary) The feeds the animal eats and how that’s converted into meat protein that people see again in the grocery store. We’re always trying to make that connection between what the students can relate with their diets and what they might see when they go to the grocery store. (Jim) And the wind tunnel. The wind tunnel is another exciting one. We create our own wind, although there’s no deficiency today. They like to see the wind erosion, the soil blowing and they don’t realize the power of the wind and what it can do to the landscape. And it’s a nice demonstration of that. Makes a lot of noise too, that always get’s ’em excited. (Jim) They like to stand in front and have their hair blow. (Gary) Yes. (Jim) Well Gary, thanks a lot. Folks, stay with us we’ll be right back after words from our sponsor.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and with us we have Dr. Chuck Rice. He is a soil microbiologist at Kansas State University and renowned soil scientist. So Chuck, tell us a little bit about what you’re going to be showing the kids in a minute. (Chuck) Well for the students we’re gonna show them about the life in the soil. We got earth worms, nematodes, bacteria, fungi, organisms that really make soil a living… (Jim) What it is. (Chuck) Entity. (Chuck) Yes. (Jim) Make soil what it is. And you know, most people don’t really have any concept of what’s in the soil. They think it’s just dirt. (Chuck) Right, right, right. And soil’s more than that. We’ll even talk about how soil impact human health and those organisms. We eat organisms all the time through yogurt and cheese and that. So, it’s very important to let the kids know about science. It’s a living thing that they can touch and they can understand. Hopefully, they’ll have a better appreciation of science and maybe they’ll even go into a science field into high school and college. (Jim) Right. So, who do you have here helping man and woman the microscopes? (Chuck) Well we have several of my grad students and undergraduate student workers in my lab. It’s a good opportunity for them to relate to third graders. They have fun doing it. It’s a long morning, but it’s a good opportunity for them to communicate their science to the public. (Jim) And also I notice you have a number of women, obviously, in this field. (Chuck) Yes. (Jim) They’re good role models actually. (Chuck) Yeah and that’s important. We About half my lab is females, women and so it’s really important for the students, the kids to see that both men and women are involved in sciences. (Jim) In the sciences. And there are so many sciences in agriculture. It’s not farming’s not like your Grand father and Grandmother used to do, it’s a whole new world. (Chuck) Right, right. And it’s more managing the living organisms, it’s more management skill sets. But knowing, besides farming, it’s important for the city kids and public in city urban environments to understand soils beyond farming. It has much more value than just the farming, although that’s important. (Jim) Obviously. Chuck, thank you for being with us and I know you’re gonna be pretty busy here in a minute. (Chuck) Alright. Thank you Jim. (Jim) Folks, stay right with us we’ll be right back with more of That’s My Farm.
(Jim) Good morning folks, I’m Jim Shroyer, host of That’s My Farm. And we’re going to be doing something a little bit differently today. Usually we’re talking to farmers. Today we’re talking to maybe future farmers. We’ve got the Kids Ag Field Day at the Agronomy Farm at Kansas State University. We have about 300 fourth graders from local schools and they’re here to see and learn about different sciences that go into agriculture. (Brooke) My name is Brooke Snyder. I teach at Woodrow Wilson Elementary, fourth grade. I’ve been teaching for ten years, believe it or not. And I graduated from K-State. And my step Dad was a farmer. My step Dad was a farmer. I think it’s important that kids know what they’re eating, especially what they’re putting into bodies and their surroundings and more importantly that things take time and nurturing. And it’s also important for them to know responsibility and how much work that goes into sustaining life, basically. All the work and the process that involves it. “OK, I’m gonna add a weak acid to this and in your class later on you’re gonna do vinegar to do the same…” (Brooke) They’re learning about how far the roots go down. And the different types of plants that can grow in different types of soil. And the different types of nutrients that are available in the soil. Right now they’re testing for lime and calcium, which are vital for plant growth. And they’re doing a test with a weak acid that will react with lime and calcium and that’s a definitive answer if lime or calcium is in the soil. (Kids) Yeah!! (Jim) What do ya got there? (Kid) That thing I dug down. (Brooke) Can you tell them how you know if there was calcium? (Kid) We did this weak acid on it. (Jim) What did it do? (Kid) It fizzed, just like vinegar. Like when you open a soda. And when you put calcite in vinegar it fizzes, just like the lime down there. (Brooke) They’re having a great time. It’s so important because our new… with our new curriculum and state standards which they layer upon itself, these kids have been experienced to plants in third and now we’re studying rock and minerals environments in fourth grade. And so it’s really important for them to experience it in fourth grade. And I feel like this just gets better each year. The information presented to the kids just gets better each year.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. With us we have Dr. Mickey Ransom. And Mickey is a soil scientist, more specifically soil classification and morphology. And Mickey thanks for being with us this morning And you know, when you find yourself in a hole, first thing you’re supposed to do is put down a shovel. But what are you going to be doing with the kids today? (Mickey) Well first of all, we’re going to have a lot of fun showing these kids out here agriculture and especially the importance of science in agriculture. The role that agriculture plays in food production. Give them an opportunity to look at plants that are growing, talk about how important soils are for plant growth and other uses in addition to just plant growth. How good of a soil your house would be built on for example, whether or not it would be a good soil to build a house with a basement on it. All of that depends on soil properties. And we’ve got a pit dug here so we give the kids an opportunity to get down in the pit and take a look at the soil and show them what we have here. (Jim) Well just real briefly here just kinda show us what we do have. (Mickey) Alright. (Jim) Is this a Wymore up here? (Mickey) This is a soil that’s called Wymore, and one characteristic about Wymore is it has a high organic matter content that’s deeply distributed with depth in the soil profile. And that’s because this is a soil that originally formed under a native prairie vegetation. So, they’re lots of plant roots, decomposition, very good properties and this is really an excellent soil for crop production. And of course a crop that we have growing here is corn. (Jim) Right, right. I see the roots right here. OK. (Mickey) Now one thing we like to talk to the kids about is we show them the scientific process that we would go about in analyzing the soil and looking at some of its soil properties. Now, let’s watch this reaction when I add the lime. Yep, you got a good piece there. (Kid) Does it burn your skin? (Mickey) If you got a little bit of this acid on your skin, it won’t burn it. See how it fizzes when I add that acid to it. And one thing that we do is we divide up the soil profile here into these natural layers, they’re called soil horizons. And I get them to count the horizons and we have these marked off with nails. And you can see that we’ve got a total of six different horizons marked off here. So, there are different layers with individual soil properties within the soil profile. And we have them look at some of the properties. By the way, we do have these little shovels that we let them dig around with, but we talk about the organic matter content, the structure of the soil, how important aggregation is for plant growth and crop development like that. (Jim) So, this is… you know we are in an agricultural field, but like you said a second ago, knowing the soils, the soil types is not just an agricultural, it’s an engineering thing as well. (Mickey) Absolutely and especially of course here in the Manhattan the soil type that you have and the soil properties are very important in determining how well suited that soil is for uses, such as building a house with a basement on it. A lot of the houses in this area use septic tank filter fields for homesite waste disposal. Soil evaluation is very important and very critical for determining whether or not you could use that particular soil for a septic tank filter field system. So, there’s lots of things about the soil that’s very important in addition to just crop growth. (Jim) Mickey, I want to thank you for taking time and in just a few seconds here you’re gonna have a boatload of kids, fourth graders and so have fun. (Mickey) I think we’re expecting about 320 fourth graders today. So, we’re certainly looking forward to that. We hope the kids have fun. And another thing that we’ll have is we’ll have some of our own undergraduate agronomy students and some of our graduate students out here. So we’ll give them an opportunity to work with the kids. And they just have a great time when they do that. (Jim) Thanks Mickey. (Mickey) You’re welcome Jim. (Jim) Appreciate it. Stay with us, we’ll be right back.
(Teacher) What’s related to a butterfly? Flies at night? A moth, right. Butterflies fly during the day. Moths fly at night. (Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host. And today we have a fourth grade teacher, a real live one from Sheridan Elementary in Junction City, Mr. Dinkel, Dan. Thanks for being here. You guys have been here for a few years. now. And so you’ve got a little experience on what we have and so how does that fit into your curriculum? How… I mean do the kids like it? And take it from there. (Dan) Well, it is a great tie into our curriculum, the fourth grade standards that we teach. We really like the Agronomy Field Day because it allows us to replicate things that we can’t do at the school. It brings real live science to the kids that’s hard for us sometimes to do in the city. (Jim) Right. That’s right. (Dan) And it also allows them, gives kids that background knowledge, so as we’re going through the curriculum they have that information, and say, oh yeah I remember when… (Jim) Ah ha moment. (Dan) …when we did that, that wind simulation. at the Agronomy Day. (Dan) So a lot of tie ins there. (Jim) Right, so really that wind tunnel, the soil pit, that rainfall simulator, maybe the living soil, those all really help you down the road maybe. (Dan) Absolutely. The kids, you know it’s always fun when they tie it back into what we’ve already learned. (Jim) So besides the pizza that Farm Bureau supports here at lunch here, what do you feel is probably what the kids like the most? (Dan) They like the rainfall simulator, the wind simulator and they like to go into the pit, the soil pit. (Jim) And dig on the… find the horizons and dig on that as well. I kinda like the chicken guts myself. (Dan) They talk about that too. (Jim) Thanks a lot. (Dan) Alright. (Jim) Hey we’ll see you. (Jim) Well Dan I really appreciate you coming and hope to see you next year as well. And you folks at home, that’s it for That’s My Farm and we’ll see you next Friday morning. See you later.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission the Soybean Checkoff Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.