‘It feels like I’m part of a community’

June 1, 2023

Study crop and weed science from agricultural leaders and scholars in the heart of America’s crop production at NDSU.

Crop and weed science is the study of grain and forage crop production, weed science, genetics, plant breeding, crop physiology and plant biotechnology. Students in the field become researchers, agronomists, consultants and help support the overall field of agriculture through crop production.

“The NDSU Department of Plant Sciences provides students a broad range of disciplines to explore as they develop their personalized career path,” said Kirk Howatt, program coordinator and associate professor in the department of plant sciences. “Crop and weed science and horticulture provide the base programs to encompass genetics, plant breeding, plant propagation, crop production and weed management. And the food science program provides training for careers in commodity quality, food processing and consumer appeal. We have a place for anyone working towards a career dealing with plants whether for food, fiber, feed, pharmaceutical or aesthetics.”

Adam Aberle, a graduate student from Menoken, North Dakota, is most interested in research and the potential to make big impacts on global agriculture. Aberle was raised on a family farm and was a rancher before returning to NDSU to complete his undergrad degree and pursue a graduate degree.

“I knew that going on for graduate school and getting into agriscience, working within industry, within research and development, I’d have opportunities to work anywhere in the world and at a good pay rate, too,” said Aberle, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2022. “I’ve always wanted to live other places. I already have lived other places. I want to keep doing that and exploring. This education is giving me that opportunity.”

Aberle is involved in sugar beet research at NDSU. He also completed an internship that explored herbicides and their effect on crop productions.

“Several courses feature hands-on learning in laboratories that are concurrent with the classroom lectures,” Howatt said. “These activities reinforce and provide tangible evidence to support the lecture material. Greenhouse and growth room facilities are available so students can work with live plants to practice skills used in their internships and careers.”

The program offers four curriculum options: agronomy, biotechnology, science and weed science. With strong hands-on learning experiences in the classroom, field and through student organizations like the NDSU Agronomy Club, students in the crop and weed science department are set up for success once they graduate.

“It feels like I’m part of a community,” Aberle said. “There’s just a lot of very intellectual people around here that are very passionate about what they do. That makes a whole world of a difference, in your work environment, in your learning environment. It makes it all a lot more pleasant and enjoyable. And I get a lot more out of it. They’re setting me up for success.”

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To learn more about Adam and the NDSU crop and weed science program, visit the official university YouTube channel.