4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge and American Crystal Sugar Company

4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge and American Crystal Sugar Company

Project Goal: Find solutions to real Ag-related issues in your community

Jerry Christianson, Agronomy Manager

The 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge is a hands-on learning experience to inspire the next generation of agriculture leaders in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Extension 4-H program asks Minnesota youth to identify agriculture-related issues in their communities and develop science-based solutions. Youth teams partner with local expert mentors to develop science-based responses to agriculture-related issues they have identified in their communities.  Youth can explore issues in the areas of agronomy, animal husbandry, soil science, Ag business, rural finance, food science, engineering and more. Youth are encouraged to be creative in exploring and developing solutions. 

4H 1

American Crystal is supporting the program financially and partnering with a local 4-H team of students this year from Puposky, (near Bemidji), Minnesota.  The team members are Val Davis (11th grade), Sarah Bofferding (10th grade), Josh Gilbertson, 9th grade.  John Gilbertson (Josh’s Grandfather) is the team coach.   Jerry Christenson, Agronomy Manager at the Crookston and East Grand Forks districts is the team mentor.

4H 2

The team is working on a project to promote the use of VersaLime by sugarbeet growers for disease control and also for pH adjustment of soils outside the RRV.   They are researching the improvement of alfalfa production in the Bemidji area with the addition of Versalime to the highly acidic soils. 

In preparation for this project, the team toured the Crookston factory and learned about the use of lime rock in the purification process and how Versalime is produced.  Gary Garcia, Crookston Production Superintendent, taught the students about sugar production, especially the use of lime in the process.  The students also saw the lime pile and were told about our lime landfill becoming close to full and the need to have growers take the yearly production of VersaLime to their fields to prevent building another very costly land fill for spent lime.  This tour gave the students the background for their project and they began researching possible uses for the VersaLime.

As a mentor, Jerry helped them find resources to get their project off the ground.  The mentor role is to support and educate the team and not to give them answers, it is the team’s job to do the research and find information and solutions.

You can see a short video of the team working on their project by clicking on this link: https://youtu.be/uj4Ogyo57z8