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K-State Collegiate Crops Team at the Australian Universities Crops Competition (l to r): Wes Jennings, Nate Dick, Jayden Meyer, Madison Tunnell, Luke Ryan, Blake Kirchhoff, Dr. Kevin Donnelly – Coach | Download this photo.

K-State student wins top honors, team takes second in Australia crops competition

Students also participated in study tour to learn about culture and agriculture

Oct. 15, 2019


MANHATTAN, Kan. — A Kansas State University student took top honors and the K-State Crops Team placed second in the Australian University Crops Competition recently. The event was hosted by the Australian Grain Growers organization and was held at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.

Luke Ryan, junior in agronomy from Solomon, Kansas won top individual honors overall.

The University of Sydney placed first in the team competition, K-State placed second, and Charles Sturt University from Wagga Wagga, Australia, was third. 

Three students from South Dakota State University traveled with the K-State team and participated in the competition. The teams competed against agricultural universities from across Australia. 

K-State Crops Team members making the trip included top winner Luke Ryan, plus Jayden Meyer, Smith Center, junior in agricultural economics; Wes Jennings, Abilene, senior in agronomy; Nate Dick, Inman, senior in agronomy; Madison Tunnell, Olathe, junior in agronomy and Blake Kirchhoff, Hardy, Nebraska, junior in agronomy. The team was accompanied by coach Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy. This was the fifth trip for the K-State team since 2012 to participate in the Australian competition.   

Ryan, Meyer and Jennings were awarded a stipend from the American Society of Agronomy to cover part of their travel expenses as a result of previously placing in the top three at the U.S. Collegiate Crops Contests in Kansas City and Chicago last November. Additional sponsors of the K-State team were Kansas Grain Sorghum, Kansas Corn, Syngenta, and the K-State Department of Agronomy. The College of Agriculture also provided an international travel scholarship to the K-State students.

The trip was a combination of work, learning and sightseeing, which also proved educational for the students.

The competition portion spanned three days at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy Campus. The contest included a seed identification section, three exams over production of selected Australian crops, a business management problem, field yield estimates and management recommendations, and a live crop, weed and disease evaluation component. 

Before the competition, the group spent a day touring tropical agriculture in Queensland, learning about bananas, coffee, avocados, and sugarcane, and visited a large grain farm in South Australia featuring mixed cropping of wheat, canola and pulses. After the contest, they visited a sheep farm, a cherry orchard, a vineyard, and an apple orchard and processing facility in the Adelaide Hills area. They also travelled to Kangaroo Island, visiting grain farms and KI Pure Grain, the island’s major cooperative grain handling and export business. Learning about canola and Australian white wheat production, ryegrass herbicide resistance problems, and the use of pulse crops such as lentils and fava beans in crop rotations were highlights for the U.S. teams.

The students also took a snorkeling trip to the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns, with a visit to Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Opera House on the trip to Adelaide. After the contest, they spent two days touring Kangaroo Island. Highlights were observing the majestic coastal rock formations, beaches with seals and dolphins, and kangaroos and koala bears in the wild.

At a glance

K-State student Luke Ryan earned top honors and the K-State crops team placed second at the recent Australian University Crops Competition at the University of Adelaide.


K-State Collegiate Crops Team


Kevin Donnelly

Written by

Kathy Gehl


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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 wellbeing 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.