January 9, 2002 | By: Laura Skillman

One year ago, the corn-soybean science group at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture officially organized. The group is made up of professionals from various departments within the college who focus their work on corn or soybeans.

Morris Bitzer, an agronomist at UK, coordinates the newly established group.

"Probably the biggest value of the group is that the professional people can keep up with what others are doing in terms of research and education," he said.

This group allows for more collaboration and focus on things that need to be done, Bitzer said. With busy schedules, it is sometimes difficult to keep current on the various research efforts under way within other departments, he said.

Bitzer said the corn-soybean group idea is an outgrowth from grain tours he and James Herbek, a UK agronomist based in Princeton, have held for the past three years.

The corn-soybean group is modeled after the success of the wheat science group that was established in 1997 and includes members of six departments.

Combining corn and soybean science together makes sense, Bitzer said, because farmers who grow corn generally grow soybeans as well. There was some discussion on putting all three commodities into one group, but Bitzer said the focus of the two groups is somewhat different.

Todd Barlow, executive director of the Kentucky Corn Growers and Kentucky Small Grain Growers associations said his membership is enthusiastic about the newly formed group. His experience with UK's wheat group as been positive, he said, and if the corn-soybean group turns out the same way "we will be more than pleased."

Bitzer said the group's goals include providing annual producer training sessions. The group's first session was held last month in Lexington and included information on market outlook, fertility management, genetically-modified grains, biotechnology use in pest control and an introduction into some of the new technology research being conducted at UK.

"We are trying to get the word out about what we are doing," he said.

To help accomplish that goal, the group will be sending out quarterly newsletters updating research activities and providing production updates. The group's first newsletter was sent out in the past few weeks. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association sent the newsletter to its membership.

In the future, the group also plans to hold field days to highlight some of the research.


Morris Bitzer, (859) 257-3975