The National FFA Organization selected Eric Coddington as the 2015 American Star in Agricultural Placement at the recent National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky.
This award is given to an FFA member each year that demonstrates outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience program.
Coddington is the son of Brian and Mary Coddington. He is a member of the Montello FFA Chapter, which is led by advisor Hannah Wolsdorf. He received a $4,000 prize and an opportunity to attend an agricultural exchange program to Puerto Rico.
"I joined FFA in the 7th grade and have been involved ever since," says Coddington who is 21 years old and is a junior at Iowa State University. "My involvement on the family farm is where my SAE began."
His family's farm, Peppermill Farms, raises 1,400 acres of corn, 500 acres of alfalfa, 300 acres of soybeans and 50 head of Angus beef cattle.
Throughout high school, Coddington developed an interest in agronomy. During that time, he developed an SAE program by working on the family farm and seeking out ways to improve.
"Soil types in Marquette County are variable. It can range from sandy to a heavy clay soil type in a relatively small area," he says. "My program revolves around managing crops in this type of growing environment."
Coddington developed a series of research test plots on sandy soil in pursuit of the best rate of return on nitrogen applications. Over three years, he tested split applications of nitrogen and various seed populations. He saw a range of 5-25 bushels per acre yield bump if nitrogen applications are split. Splitting nitrogen applications has allowed for the corn crop to maintain an appropriate level of nutrients throughout the growing season.
Not only has Coddington conducted nitrogen trials on corn, but he has also tested various population counts and compared the yield.
"We used a range of populations, from 18,000 to 30,000. Coddington found that in either case, the yield gained some space.
"Thankful is the way I feel about the opportunities I've had to do what I do," said Coddington. "Not all kids get to implement management practices on a farm and I'm appreciative for my father's guidance and the chance to make suggestions. Mrs. Wolsdorf was extremely helpful in the application process. My family is always there to support me too.
"Attending Iowa State has helped me," said Coddington. "I already knew the processes behind cropping. Now, I better understand the science behind the growth of crops. I've also grown to appreciate data more."
Down the road, Coddington envisions managing acres on the family farm on a closer level. Rather applying the same treatment to an entire field, portions, acres or even individual plants could see their needs met through the use of variable rate technology and yield monitors. Continuing to seek gains in yield through the use of technology will be a priority for him.
Giebel lives in Baraboo.