The man who put out hundreds of plots in the heyday of corn and soybean chemicals, long before the days of Roundup, will retire June 30 as weed control specialist at Purdue University. A celebration will be held on campus in honor of Tom Bauman. The date was chosen because the Purdue Weed Day will be held at the Throckmorton Research Center in the morning, followed by recognition for Bauman in the afternoon.
Bauman's career spans more than four decades. He was instrumental in testing both corn and soybean herbicides during the stretch when a dozen companies vied for space in the soybean market. He was amongst the first to check out Scepter and Pursuit, amongst others. Those were important chemicals. The soybean weed control world changed, however, when Roundup Ready soybeans that could tolerate applications of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate arrived on the scene in the mid-90s.
Soon after that and the quick adoption of Roundup, many of the companies that competed so valiantly, such as American Cyanamid, with a whole stable of products, went away. Glyphosate applications offered cheaper weed control with a wider window of application. The existing products that were more expensive, most of them soil-applied, some with somewhat serious plant-back implications in dry years, soon faded to the background.
That simply shifted Bauman's job- it didn't mean he was no longer needed. Working alongside Tom Jordan, Glenn Nice, and now Bill Johnson, the person now in charge of weed control comparison plots, Bauman began to evaluate new avenues related to the shift in systems, such as how long weeds could be allowed to compete with corn or soybeans before affecting yields. Farmers soon learned that it wasn't as long as they thought, and that it was still beneficial to spray on a timely basis. Today, companies still in the game are vying to come up with the best residual complement to glyphosate that can be soil-applied early for some residual control until it's time for the postemergence application.
Tom Bauman was honored as an honorary Master Farmer in ceremonies during the 2010 Master Farmer presentation at the Beck Ag Center at the Purdue Agronomy Research Center near West Lafayette. He was a unanimous choice of the Master Farmer judges because fo the contributions he's made all these years behind the scenes for Indiana farmers. The award is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
The celebration for Bauman will be 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, June 30, in room 1-425 of Lilly Hall on campus. Everyone is invited.