By: Beth Ann Luedeker

Soil and Crop Sciences contact: Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, [email protected]

Weed Science students and their coaches traveled to Vero Beach, Florida recently to represent Texas A&M University at the Southern Weed Science Society weed contest.
Drs. Muthu Bagavathiannan, Katherine Carson, and Vijay Singh coached two graduate teams and an undergraduate team for the contest. Thirteen teams, representing nine universities competed.

Texas A&M Weed Science team
The 2017 Soil and Crop Sciences Weed Science Teams with their coaches were (left to right):Front row: Muthu Bagavathiannan (Coach), Josiane Argenta (MS), Kathy Carson (Coach); Middle row: Seth Abugho (PhD), Prabhu Govindasamy (PhD), Caitlin Lakey (BS), Susie Lin (BS), Taylor Thate (BS), Kaisa Werner (MS), Jennifer Dudak (BS), Rui Liu (PhD), Vijay Singh (Coach); Back row: Hao Sheng-Lin (BS), Blake Young (MS), Spencer Samuelson (PhD)

“Last year was our first year to compete, and we didn’t do so well,” said graduate student Seth Abugho. “This was a redemption year for us!”
And redemption they received, as one graduate team placed third overall. Abugho, who is working on his Ph.D. in weed science, was the third high individual overall out of sixty-six contestants.  Teammate Prabhu Govindasamy was the tenth place individual.
Spencer Samuelson and Blake Young rounded out the team, each making a substantial contribution to the team’s success.
Other graduate students who competed were: Rui “Tabby” Liu, Kaisa Werner and Josiane Argenta.
Three universities  were represented in the undergraduate contest, where the Aggie team ended up on top.
Caitlin Lakey, a junior Agriculture Science major, was the high point individual overall. Hao Sheng-Lin, a senior Plant and Environmental Soil Science major,  finishing as the third high individual.
Rounding out the undergraduate team were: Susie Lin, Taylor Thate, and Jennifer Dudak.
The contest is made up of five sections: weed identification, herbicide symptomology, sprayer calibration, written calibration and farmer problem solving.
In weed identification, the students must identify 100 plant species from seeds to cotyledon stage.
For herbicide symptomology, 25 different herbicides are used on six crop species and seven weed species.  Contestants must identify the herbicide used based on the symptomology exhibited by the plants.
The farmer problem is a simulated problem solving situation in which the students talk to the “farmer”, and examine the field. Based on the plant symptomology and farm’s management history, the team members must determine the problem and suggest a solution.
This year’s team is sponsored by the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, FMC, and Monsanto.