The Arlington Research Station is home to a number of ongoing projects from the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The experiments there are being tested under numerous conditions and ecological factors, which usually does not include the experiment being eaten by invasive species.
As the supportive control center for the university, the research station often workers with researchers to control extraneous variables such as weeds and pests. This is done through the help of people, such as Brad Schoenemann, who is working as an intern at the Arlington Research Station this summer to learn more about crop production, crop pest scouting as well as the business and management aspects of the station.
The 19-year-old Lodi native has been working at the research station for the past four summers and is going on his second year at UW-Platteville studying business. Assistant Superintendent Jeff Breuer coordinated an internship with the Wisconsin Certified Crop Advisors for Schoenemann, which helps people become agronomy professionals.
This has given him the opportunity to go through a crop scout class in Madison where he’s learned about different stages of growth in crops, various bugs and diseases to look out for.
The main focus of the internship is on crop production and crop pest scouting for both research projects and production fields. He is also learning more about equipment operations, technologies and helps with station events and ag safety.
I like working here and I was glad to have the opportunity to do the internship,” Schoenemann said. “I wanted to look at more of the business aspect of the farm and Jeff said he’d make sure I got to see that.”
Schoenemann said there’s a lot more that goes into running the research station than what he initially thought, and it’s been interesting to see the other side of the work after being part of the labor crew the last few years. Breuer said he has gone over the financial aspect of a research station and how they can provide the best service for everyone.
“More importantly, what makes a place work effectively and ensuring the best effort is done out there for our customers, who are, by and large, university ag researchers we support,” Breuer said.
Schoenemann’s internship focuses on crop production and crop pest scouting, so he works to spray the fields with pesticides over the summer to protect the projects from harmful insects. The research station will be helping him receive his pesticide applicator license soon, then he’ll be going to school for pesticide spraying in the spring.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Every day is a new day. You’re never doing the same thing. I think the whole thing is pretty interesting.”
Breuer said the university has developed various guidelines for what threshold of invasive species are tolerable. Through scouting the fields and through monitoring programs that involves different insect traps, researchers can make the decision whether or not to have their projects sprayed.
This summer, Breuer said the research station was scouting and monitoring for potato leafhopper, which is an invasive insect that blows in from southern states. He said they are known to cause damage to alfalfa crops and leave a toxin behind. Based on what they found, the decision was made to spray the crops.
While spraying doesn’t always impact the research, Breuer said it certainly can. The research station hosts projects on soil science, which can study soil fertility levels, biology and use of cover crops in a crop rotation. He said the research tends to be fairly specific and weeds, pests and plant diseases tend not to be part of this equation.
“They’ll ask for our assistance so as not to affect their specific research goals,” Breuer said. “Things like weeds, which are not part of their focus, we help minimize that effect and keep track of their research protocol.”
When it comes to this work, Breuer said Schoenemann has been outperforming all of the interns before him with his attention to detail, his willingness to get involved and confidence in learning new equipment. He said he has begun talking with Schoenemann about bringing him back next year in a promoted position with elevated responsibilities.
“I’m very pleased to be working with Brad, mentoring him and thrilled to get him the opportunity to go to another sprayer school through us,” he said.