Gibault FFA looks to sprout alfalfa

Pictured, Gibault FFA advisor Greg Wiegand talks to students before Jim Probst of Wm. Nobbe & Co. gives an explanation of the work being done on the new alfalfa plot. Pictured at right, Paul Heck of Wm. Nobbe & Co works the land last Wednesday as part of a Gibault Catholic High School FFA and agriculture field demonstration. (Sean McGowan photos)

A new Gibault Catholic High School project is beginning to germinate, and the FFA chapter is leading the charge.

Roundup ready alfalfa will sprout next spring east of the school’s main driveway. Agriculture and FFA students watched last Wednesday as Wm. Nobbe & Co. in Waterloo worked the plot with a tractor to get it in good shape and Jim Probst of Wm. Nobbe explained the process of getting the field ready for the crop.

The initial step consisted of Gateway FS spraying the three-acre plot with herbicide to kill nuisance grass as well as spreading lime to bring the pH to seven, which is neutral. 

“The pH is important. It gets the chemicals working and  brings out the right nutrients in the soil,” Probst said.

Then came Wm. Nobbe’s turn to work the field with a 210 horsepower mechanical front wheel John Deere tractor, using a 25-foot sunflower disc. The next step included Gateway FS returning to put down fertilizer. 

After that, Wm. Nobbe worked the field with a field cultivator.

Gibault FFA advisor Greg Wiegand said the Gibault Men’s Club would be in charge of the final step — putting the seed down. Probst said using a seeder would roll the seed into the soil to make good contact.

Wiegand said last Wednesday that the seeding was scheduled to take place Saturday. Additionally, he said the first cutting of the alfalfa will hopefully take place in the spring.

“It all depends on the weather. We’re hoping if all goes well, there will maybe be four or five cuttings for the year,” Wiegand said.

Much like Gibault FFA sells different plants from its greenhouse, Wiegand said the group will also be selling the alfalfa to help the program. Revenue generated from the plant sales will go to senior scholarships, he said.

The educational opportunities abound as well. According to Wiegand, the kids will determine when the alfalfa is ready to be cut, find someone to cut it, and establish a market for the crop.

“It’s going to be their responsibility to treat it like any agriculture business,” he said.

He added the roundup ready alfalfa is more desirable to horse or cattle customers. 

Gibault student Colleen Lance listened intently to Probst’s lesson on the work  being done to the plot, being thrust into a completely unfamiliar subject.

“I learned a lot. I don’t work with tractors,” she said. “I work with sheep, so watching what they were doing and learning about the type of tractor and equipment they were using was all really new and interesting.”

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