Crop and Soil Science

Field Research

Summer Field Projects

Predicting Crude Protein in Silage Corn Using Sensor Technology
William Steffel

protein Prediction poster 500
He presented this research poster at the National Annual Meeting of Students of Agronomy, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) in fall 2015 and placed 1st in the undergraduate research poster competition. Read more.

Will Steffel research pictureMy name is Will Steffel and I was born and raised in Champlin, MN. I graduated from West Lutheran High School located in Plymouth, MN in 2014. During the three years it took me to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls I was an Agricultural Business major with a minor in Crop Science.

While at UWRF I was blessed with countless opportunities and the first one was the opportunity to conduct research with Dr. Natasha Macnack, the summer after my freshman year. We worked on researching predicting crude protein in corn silage using the GreenSeekerTM. During this research project I learned how to conduct research in the first place, how to problem solve on the go, and most importantly it sparked my passion for soil health and agronomy as a whole. After conducting all of this research I was given the opportunity to present my research at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) in the fall of 2015, in Minneapolis, MN. My research and my poster presentation with the title "Predicting Crude Protein in Silage Corn using Sensor Technology" took 1st place, not only that but I then went on to become the National Vice President of SASES. Through this I gained many professional connections and had experiences that would have never occurred if not for the student research I was able to conduct with Dr. Macnack. The opportunity created by just doing a research project that I didn't think would be anything but a resume builder opened so many doors for me that wouldn't have existed otherwise. One of those doors was the internship I went on to have as a Summer Research Technician for Winfield, where I got to showcase a lot of the research knowledge and problem solving skills that I had learned by doing research with Dr. Macnack.

Participating in research opened my eyes and reinforced my passion for agriculture. If I could leave you with some advice it would be to take every opportunity you can to advance your knowledge and if you are passionate about agriculture, do research and be hands on with your passion. I found my passion in soil health and followed it and it opened many doors and I would not be where I am in my career without it.

The Effect of Multiple Small Applications of Nitrogen on Yield and Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Corn
Carl Snyder

Carl poster
Carl Snyder presented this poster at the 2016 National Annual Meetings of Students of Agronomy, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) as well as the UWRF Fall Gala in 2016.


Carl field poster
My name is Carl Snyder
and I grew up in central Wisconsin. Currently, I'm attending UW-River Falls in pursuit of a BS degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Last summer I participated in a research project that looked at improving the uptake of Nitrogen (N) in corn by using split applications fertilizer. Forming a hypothesis, planning, construction, analyses, thinking about your materials and methods and developing an abstract are key to the development of a research project. 

I enjoyed getting my hands dirty at the field test plots, as well as the analytical data entry, and graphing data sets to illustrate the findings from the experiment. A research poster was created to explain the abstract, test method, and final results. The poster was presented and judged at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASES) conference that was held in Phoenix, AZ.

The SASES conference was awesome experience, filled with top level research by students and professionals who are all trying to help create a more sustainable future. At the conference I had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many peers, professors, and industry leaders from all around the country and world. The wide range in all the new and developing research going on in agriculture geared towards increasing sustainability is truly remarkable. The SASES conference is a great place to have research critiqued and inspired. Undertaking and presenting a research project provides opportunities for gained experience, insight, and networking that is not obtained in a classroom setting.

Split Application of Nitrogen and the Effect on Corn Growth and Nitrogen Use Efficiency
Allison Vasey

2017 SASES poster Allison Vasey

Allison presented this poster at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences conference in Tampa, Florida. The October 21-24 competition featured nearly 300 participants from 60 different universities.

Corn research 2017 Allison Vasey

My name is Allison Vasey; I was born and raised in Elk Mound, Wisconsin. I came to UWRF as a transfer student from CVTC in the fall of 2016 majoring in Crop and Soil Science with an emphasis on Crop Science.

One of the biggest opportunities I had during my time at UWRF was being able to participate in a research study with Dr. Natasha Macnack during the summer of 2017. Our project looked at the effects of split application nitrogen on corn. This project gave me more experience with running and participating in an actual field trial and gave me the opportunity to improve my problem solving skills. I really enjoyed the hands on aspect of the project. The data analysis portion of the project was also really interesting to me as well as a great learning opportunity.

After the completion of the project I was able to present our research at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences (SASES) Meeting in Tampa, FL. Experiencing this conference gave me the opportunity to build upon my skill with making a poster presentation as well as improving my presenting skills. I was able to make connections with people in the industry as well as other agriculture students from around the country. These connections and opportunities are something I never would have had if I had not been able to participate in this student research.

Effect of Spent Grain and BOD Wastewater on Maize (Zea Mays) Yield and Soil Fertility
Kendra Letch

Kendra 2018 research poster
My name is Kendra Letch and I’m from a small town called Frederic, WI. I came to UW-River Falls as a transfer student from UW-Barron County. My major at UWRF is Conservation and Environmental Planning.

My greatest opportunity while at UWRF came to me during my junior year. I was able to participate in a research study over the summer of 2018 supervised by Dr. Macnack. Our project was titled “Effect of Spent Grain and BOD Wastewater on Maize (Zea Mays) Yield and Soil Fertility.” We wanted to know if one brewery’s disposed grain and wastewater would make a good fertilizer for corn. This project gave me real world skills in field work, the ability to analyze my data and to articulate my findings and to present them in the form of a poster. I believe this project was great preparation for involvement in research in graduate school and the work force.
Kendra Letch
I was also given the opportunity to participate in the Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences (SASES) conference in Baltimore, MD and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Kennesaw State University, GA to present my poster. The SASES and NCUR conferences were great opportunities to improve on my presenting skills and to connect with other students, professors and other professionals in this type of work from around the world. It was wonderful to be able to present the hard work I had put into this research with others who are interested in making the world more sustainable. I had many great conversations at SASES and NCUR which expanded my vision in what type of work I will look forward to after graduation.

This project was a phenomenal learning experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I highly encourage any student to participate in undergraduate research.

Student Projects in Soil Fertility

  • Field Research

For more information, contact:

Natasha Macnack
Dr. Natasha Rayne

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." Aldo Leopold

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