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FFA Agronomy Contest

Training Procedures Introduction

The following suggested procedures are intended to supplement the training procedures already in use by Wyoming vocational agriculture instructors. They are provided as an outline to be followed as the instructor feels would most benefit and facilitate his training program.

Four of the major areas of the Wyoming FFA Agronomy Contest are covered. They include:
  1. Forage Judging
  2. Commercial Grain Grading
  3. Plant and Seed Identification
  4. Soils Judging
  5. Entomology

Suggested Procedure for Teaching

  1. Students should be well trained in plant identification in order to identify injurious and noninjurious plants.
  2. Create an interest in forage judging.
    1. Importance of high quality forages.
    2. Comparison between livestock judging and forage judging.
    3. Importance as part of agronomy contest.
  3. Preliminary steps:
    1. Discuss forages to be judged.
    2. Review classification of weed plants.
    3. Learn descriptive terms.
    4. Learn to use evaluation sheets.
    5. Use Judging forms.
      1. Place example on board.
      2. Let students practice giving reason.
  4. Start judging:
    1. Compare four (4) samples by general observation.
    2. Since no handling is allowed, examine each as closely as possible.
    3. Take notes on similarities and differences.
    4. A factor may be present in all samples but in varying degrees.
    5. After each sample has been carefully examined, an overall appraisal of four samples should be made.
    6. Make final placing.
  5. Give a final forage judging test using the same types of samples that will be used during the state contest.

Suggested Procedure for Teaching

  1. Create an interest in grain grading.
    1. Show the class the value of grain grading for actual marketing of grain and for an agronomy contest.
    2. The farmer can determine the value of his own grains from market quotations and it can aid in using production and handling methods suitable for a higher commercial grade.
  2. Discuss the market classes of grain that are to be graded so that the student will recognize them.
  3. Discuss the parts of the Official grain Standards Handbook that pertain to the classes to be graded until the students are familiar with this part.
  4. Start grading of grain in the following manner:
    1. Write what would be found on a sample card on the board and show how to determine class, grade and grading factors and the relative values of each.
    2. Give each student a sample sheet of factors of a grain sample and explain how to determine class, grade and grading factors and relative values of each.
  5. Give a final commercial grain grading contest. Use 10 samples and conduct the test in a similar manner to the contest to be conducted at the state level.

Suggested Procedure for Teaching

  1. Create an interest in plant and seed identification.
    1. Pass around a few samples of common seeds the students do not know to arouse their interest.
    2. Show the class the purposes of seed identification.
      1. To be able to recognize mixtures and to determine the kind and quantity of seeds in mixtures.
      2. To recognize and determine the seriousness of weed or plant seeds in planting seed.
      3. To avoid planting improper seed.
      4. To enable recognition of poisonous and harmful plants.
    3. Show the class the importance of seed and plant identification in the state agronomy contest.
  2. Aids in identification:
    1. Have students bring in designated plants and seeds from their homes.
      1. This gives the students a chance to learn about plants in their natural habitat.
      2. This gives the students a chance to see a plant and seed at different sizes, shapes and conditions.
    2. Plants and seeds that are needed can be obtained from the University for a small fee.
      1. Not getting a plant or seed from the University, but finding and mounting them one's self helps an FFA chapter.
      2. Saves the chapter money.
      3. Mounting of plants and seeds could also be a good way for an FFA chapter to make money by selling these samples to less industrious chapters.
  3. Go over the list of seeds with the class so that the students will be able to recognize them and pronounce their names.
  4. Conduct a detailed study of seeds with special emphasis given to the seeds with similar markings.
    1. Explain the difference between similar seeds.
    2. Make drawings of the more difficult to illustrate variations.
    3. Have the students study small seeds under a magnifying glass. Small characteristics can usually be seen with the naked eye after they have once been found.
  5. Have students study the seed samples individually.
  6. Give an identification test with seeds poured out in plates.
    1. Grade tests with samples still out so that the students can check their mistakes.
    2. Have each student make a list of seeds incorrectly identified so that he may study them.
  7. Tests should emphasize the seeds the students are having the most trouble with.
  8. Crop and weed seeds and plants need to be studied in their separate divisions first, then gradually combined.
  9. Give a final identification test, including all the samples and duplication of some. Check papers for correct spelling and identification.

Suggested Procedure for Teaching

  1. Students should be familiar with the material in Chapter 11 of Our Soils and Their Management (Donahue, Follett and Tulloch, 1990, Interstate and in Publishers, Inc., Danville, Illinois) the Guide to Wyoming Fertilizer Recommendations (Available from the Soil Testing Laboratory at UW).
  2. Students should recognize the appropriate agricultural or residential uses for the soil conditions presented which will protect the environment as well as provide profit.
  3. Create an interest in soil judging.
    1. Identify aspects used to classify land use.
    2. Learn the field method. (Hard texturing) for determining textural class, and be able to use the textural triangle with laboratory data to determine textural class (handouts available from Soil Testing at UW).
    3. Use laboratory data in conjunction with the Guide to Wyoming Fertilizer Recommendations to make a fertilizer recommendation.
  4. Preliminary Steps
    1. Discuss Soil textural properties and their effects
    2. Learn textural terms
    3. Learn to hand texture
    4. Learn to use textural triangle
    5. Learn factors which affect land capability class.
    6. Learn land classification for contest
    7. Practice determining land classification
    8. Review contents of fertilizer guide
    9. Practice Making Recommendations

Suggested Procedures for Teaching

The information necessary to be successful on the test is found by reviewing the study slides and accompanying information sheets (these have been provided to each school) of each of the insects and related anthropods that may appear on the test. More general information on insect biology, classification, and management is found in the UW CES bulletin titled "Insect Resource Manual" by Michael Brewer. This resource manual is helpful in learning how these insects are related to each other (their life cycle, feeding habits, and body structure) and what type of management strategies are available to control insects. Additional information includes listings of reference books, suppliers of entomology equipment, guides on the collection and preservation of insect, and glossary of entomological terms. The study slides, information sheets, and resource manual provide sufficient information to allow a student to excel on the entomology section of the contest.

For the advanced student who wished to learn more, the student should be directed to the reference books listed in the "Insect Resource Manuals." The books written by R. Pfadt and L. Pedrgo are particularly strong in plant protection entomology.

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Contest Score Sheets

Weeds Study Guide


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