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Chapter sends two teams to national agriscience fair

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:19 PM

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KERKHOVEN, Minn. — They're pretty excited.

Jared Krieger, Fred Mansfield, Kelly Holt and Courtney Kohlman are heading to Indianapolis Oct. 24-27 for the National FFA Convention. The four Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg FFAers are competing for national honors with their Agri Science Fair exhibits after receiving top placings at the state FFA contest last spring.

Krieger, a KMS senior and Mansfield, a junior, have focused on gas, specifically methane gas. The two have compared the amount of methane produced by cattle and pig manure.

The project is a personal one for Krieger. His family has a 200-sow farrow-to-finish hog operation and 30 cow/calf pairs with 150 finishers. They have considered putting in a methane digester, but Krieger wants to know which type of livestock manure would be best.

This isn't the first time Krieger has researched the topic. He started in eighth grade and entered his work at a junior high science fair, he said. But he wasn't pleased with his method of collecting methane gas data. He mentioned his frustration to Mansfield, a neighbor, who'd also entered in the same science fair. The two have continued the discussions and brought their research and findings to the FFA Agri Science Fair.

The two found that, by collecting the material in a mason jar with water, they could measure the gasses in milliliters to get an exact measurement.

"All my project is based back to the farm," he said. "We've looked at alternative energy on our farm besides a digester. We put up a wind generator in 2000."

The family has looked at digesters on other farms. There aren't many swine digesters, but he family will probably consider it for their operation since they have more hogs than cattle.

Mansfield's family has a small beef herd. He became interested in methane digesters through his father, who has seen different types of digesters used on dairies throughout the Midwest.

Holt and Kohlman will take part in the plant systems division of the FFA Agri Science Fair contest.

They are investigating what type of floral preservatives will help cut flowers last the longest. The idea for the project is spurred by the KMS FFA Chapter's Valentine Day flower sales.

"I wanted to see if we could find a floral preservative that could help preserve the flowers for a longer period of time," Holt said.

Holt and Kohlman picked five preservatives. Three were store-bought preservatives, another was a soda pop/water mix and another, plain water. Flowers in the study included red roses, Gerber daisies and pink roses. All were cut flowers and placed in vases.

In the beginning, it appeared that plain water might come out on top. After five days, they knew they couldn't rely on just one test. After the second and third trials, the industrial preservatives proved best.

Holtlives with her family on a beef and crop farm. Her grandmother grows lots of flowers and they often have cut flowers in their home.

Kohlman's mother is the family's florist. She helps with the flower gardens.