Students share in science at research farm | Mandan News

Fourteen interns spent their summers taking data measurements, threshing, crushing and preparing field samples for analysis.

And Thursday, they shared with the community what they accomplished at Mandan’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Northern Great Plains Research Lab and Area 4 Soil Conservation District Cooperative Research Farm during the lab’s annual Friends and Neighbors Day event.

The annual event is all about the things the researchers do on a daily basis, said research leader Dave Archer. It covers all the work that goes behind the data they collect and the studies they publish, informing more than just the farmers they serve but the public as a whole.

Raina Hanley, a recent Bismarck State College graduate with a degree in agribusiness and agronomy, and Marissa Condron, an animal science student at North Dakota State University, spent their summer focused on bioenergy cropping systems analysis.

For the past nine years, the farm has planted a number of different crop rotations involving wheat, peas, cover crops and corn. It has also measured how those rotations do using four different management methods — no till, baling of wheat chaff, baling of all the plant matter left after harvest and grazing cattle on the crop remnants.

The women worked on a number of projects but mostly spent their days driving a tractor equipped with sensors that take various readings to gauge the health of the plants. This data is then used by the scientists to determine what management methods and which rotations work best.

With the two years of work experience Hanley has gained at the research farm, she plans to continue her education at Dickinson State University, studying rangeland management. She says she could see herself one day working full time at the research farm.

Devin Dragswolf, a junior studying environmental science…

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