No. 1 in weeds: Mississippi college students take national title

Published 7:28 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A team of Mississippi students were in the weeds and came out with a national title.

Members of the Mississippi State University Weed Science Team garnered first place in the  National Weed Science Contest for their precise efforts in Team Sprayer Calibration.

Competing against teams from across the United States and Canada, MSU’s team was comprised of Kayla Broster, Jake  Patterson, Amy Wilber, and Antonio Correa-Tavares. They were coached by Drs. Te-Ming Paul Tseng, an Associate  Professor in Weed Science and Taghi Bararpour, an Associate Extension/Research Professor in Weed Science. Alternates  were Hayden Duncan and William Stark.

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Hosted by Bayer Crop Science in Union City, TN., more than 200 students competed in the contest which challenges  students in areas including weed identification, application technology, identification of unknown herbicides and problem  solving and recommendations.

“We are really proud of our students on the MSU Weed Science team,” Dr. Bararpour said. “We’re so proud for them just  to step up to the job regardless of the outcome, and their hard work has paid off.”

The MSU team came away with awards in the regional event as well. In the Southern Weed Science Contest, they  calculated walking speed, accurately calculated the amount of herbicide and applied it over a 100-foot course resulting in  a first-place win in Team Field Calibration. “Our sprayer calibration and application were near-perfect,” said Patterson, a  PhD candidate studying weed science from New Market, AL.

The contest was Patterson’s fourth, and he said this year’s team, which also took third overall in the regional contest, is a  family. “We’re a tight-knit group,” he said.

Patterson said the weed contest is one of the most valuable things that a weed science graduate student will do throughout  his education and career. In solving grower issues, the students walk fields with the farmer and try to address the problem  at hand. “It is applied science,” he said. “You take the things you’ve learned and apply them to real-world scenarios.”

According to the Weed Science Society of America, the National Weed Science Contest is a joint activity between  the Northeastern, North Central, Southern, and Western Weed Science Societies. Its purpose is provide a competitive  educational experience from which students from universities across the country can broaden their applied skills in Weed  Science.