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K-State Research and Extension News

K-State Crops Team completes successful spring season

Agronomy senior wins top individual award

2016 crops teamPhotos and captions available

Released: April 28, 2016

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State University Crops Team enjoyed a successful spring season at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference held recently at the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

Ben Coomes, senior in agronomy from Girard, Kansas was the top individual overall, winning two of the four contest divisions. The K-State team placed second overall, just 6 points less than the first-place team out of 2400 possible. A total of 21 crops teams competed, 13 in the four-year division and eight in the two-year division. 

Additional team members and their overall individual placings were Sam Knauss, Paola, fourth; Nathan Larson, Kensington, eighth; Johnathon Shook, Hutchinson, ninth; Tyler Herrs, Linn, 13th; and Alan VenJohn, Mt. Hope, 19th. All are seniors from Kansas majoring in agronomy. Alternates competing were Erin Bush, Franklin, Ind.; Chris Weber, Hoxie, Kansas; and Keren Duerksen, Newton, Kansas. Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy, served as coach for the team. Graduate assistant coach was Marshall Hay, Lynnville, Iowa.

The contest consists of four divisions: laboratory practical, agronomic exam, math practical and plant and seed identification. In the laboratory practical, competitors identify insects, diseases, crop products, and equipment, plus determine crop growth stages, interpret pesticide labels or seed tags, name plant structures, identify nutrient deficiencies, and evaluate various crop production problems. The agronomic exam evaluated knowledge of crop production and management, crop physiology and breeding, soil properties, soil fertility, tillage, crop harvesting and storage, weeds, insects and diseases. The math practical included equipment calibration and other agronomic calculations. Seed and plant identification requires contestants to learn over 250 plant and seed samples.

The NACTA Judging Conference event concluded the spring competition season for the K-State Crops Team. Earlier, the team placed second at the Iowa State Invitational contest in February, and first at the NACTA Regional Contest held at K–State in March. The K-State Soils Team also competed at the NACTA Judging Conference at Crookston, Minn., placing fourth.

The K-State College of Agriculture will host the 2017 National NACTA Judging Conference April 6-8, 2017. Individual contests are being planned across multiple disciplines including animal science, agricultural economics, agricultural communications, agronomy, and horticulture, plus a knowledge bowl covering all agricultural disciplines.


K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans.  Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Steve Watson, swatson@ksu.edu

Additional Information:
Kevin Donnelly is at 785-532-5402 or kjd@ksu.edu