July 29, 2010
Tom Bauman selected which seeds to plant and which chemicals to use each spring. He made sure the ground was prepared properly, and the seed was planted. Then he typically handled spraying himself, using a variety of products. It was like his own giant test plot, only on weed control products, not hybrids and variety. Then in the fall, he would supervise harvest and pore over the results to see which combinations worked out the best.
So Tom Bauman sounds like a typical farmer right? Choosing seed? Supervising work? Spraying chemicals? No, instead he is a Purdue University weed control Extension researcher, and has been for 34 years, all spent at Purdue. Since he can't technically qualify for the Master Farmer award, he can certainly qualify for and receive the honorary Master Farmer award.
This award is presented when deemed worthy. The goal is to honor one whose service has been good or other Indiana farmers, but who does not farm land themselves. The same committee that selects the Master Farmers puts its seal of approval on Honorary Master Farmers.
Instead of getting equipment ready for the next season during the winter, although his crew did that under his supervision, Bauman went on long trips all over Indiana, helping local Extension agents conduct pesticide training, and giving programs to help farmers have a better grasp of the weed control products available for their use. He has talked in counties from one end of Indiana to the other, and from one side to the other.
Recounting memories of his career, Bauman notes that it ranges all the way from doing studies to control weeds by propane flame, even before he was on staff, to recommending how to best use modern technologies, including Roundup Ready and Liberty Link products.
He's never been afraid of a challenge. And along the way, he's helped farmers face challenges in learning how to control weeds in no-till, and in understanding how weeds can grow resistant to a certain product if that product is used over and over again, especially in the same crop year after year.
For his part, he's grateful to the people who have helped him, including the late Jim Williams, a Purdue weed control specialist, Merrill Ross, the current staff, Mike White, his assistant, and many, many more. Bauman, 70, has not yet announced his retirement plans.
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