Harvest at Purdue Agronomy Center on the fast track
Grant St. Clair, a freshman turf science student of South Whitley, Ind., hopes working at Purdue's Agronomy Center for Research and Education will help him to better understand how research projects are conducted. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As superintendent of Purdue University's Agronomy Center for Research and Education, Jim Beaty doesn't count his career in years.
"I've been here for 25 growing seasons," said Beaty, who thinks this year's harvest might be the fastest he has seen at the West Lafayette operation.
"The crops matured early, and we've had three weeks of ideal, dry weather to get them out of the ground. I'd say this certainly feels like a record year. And now we've had two mornings of killing frost, which really forces the end to the growing season."
The center has been a beehive of activity in recent days as researchers, students and hourly workers busily harvest a summer's worth of research.
"For the five-man crew that works here full time, planting is more stressful," Beaty said. "But for the researches, I'm sure the fall is their busiest season."
Beaty says there may be 100 people on any day scattered across the 1,135-acre center, just a few miles north of Purdue's main campus. That includes about 53 researchers working concurrently on about 180 projects.
With additional people using the nearby Beck Agricultural Center, it is no wonder Beaty sometimes feels like a traffic cop on the farm.
"That's what makes this time of year so exciting," Beaty said. "And busy."
Beaty said work for most people at the center is winding down, but not for Beaty and his crew. They will begin working on fall tillage and fertilization, planting cover crops, winter wheat and native plants and beginning annual equipment repairs -- all of which lead the crew into the spring of 2011 and Beaty's 26th crop season.
Writer: Tom Campbell, 765-494-8084, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Jim Braty, 765-463-2632, email@example.com
A photo gallery with additional publication-quality photos is available at http://www.ag.purdue.edu/agcomm/Pages/Harvest.aspx