By Kelsey Tully, agricultural education and communications master’s student
A group of international students and researchers from Cambodia and Senegal arrived in Manhattan, Kansas, on October 11 to begin their U.S. agricultural experience. Kansas State University’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) hosted the group before the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa.
While the international guests were in the Little Apple, the SIIL team provided a glimpse of Kansas agriculture in a variety of settings. Dan Devlin, director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE), set up farm tours for the SIIL group to see U.S. agriculture up close and in action.
Their first stop was River Creek Farms, which started in 1890. Brothers, Joe and Bob Mertz, discussed how they operate and manage the family farm using a crop and livestock integrated production system and the challenges that face U.S agriculture. This conversation posed an exciting opportunity for a bidirectional learning opportunity, where both native Kansans and international participants shared stories about different production practices used globally, including antibiotic use in livestock, livestock genetics, the use of GMOs, and the cost of farm products.
After a traditional U.S. lunch at Manhattan’s local Tallgrass Tap House, Devlin took the group to see the research side of Kansas agriculture – K-State’s agronomy department research plots. Elliot Carver, an agronomy doctoral student, led the tour. The plots are used to test multiple dimension of cover crop practices, and participants were able to discuss how Carver is applying his research to everyday farming questions and concerns.
Campus SIIL faculty and their colleagues from Cambodia and Senegal participated in a panel discussion on youth engagement and capacity building at the World Food Prize in Iowa on October 18.
Kelsey Tully is the social-media assistant for K-State’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab.