Farmers “Adopt” Scientists To Show Them Where Research Is Used
STEELEVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ Peter Calcott will leave his test tubes behind this summer to help feed hogs on a farm as part of a nationwide program to introduce scientists to the farmers they help.
The reason for the pilot program, dubbed ″Adopt-a-Scientist,″ is that many scientists have never seen a farm and ″for all they know, cotton grows in pots,″ says Ann Sorenson of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Calcott is one of eight researchers from agricultural products companies who will be matched with farmers across the country.
″We hope he gets ideas and sees the needs out here in the country,″ said Carol Meyer, whose farm Calcott will visit. ″We want him to see what we do so he’ll know how vital his research is.″
Scientists will also be visiting farms in Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Mississippi, New York and perhaps other states.
The farmers, in turn, may visit the scientists’ labs to get a better understanding of how technology can help them, said Sorensen, assistant director of the Natural and Environmental Resources Division of the Farm Bureau.
Mrs. Meyer and her husband Glenn raise corn and soybeans, but the main enterprise on their 240-acre Randolph County farm is hogs.
Calcott works at Monsanto Co. in St. Louis on improving swine nutrition and getting hogs to market weight more efficiently.
″I am a scientist - involved all my life in laboratory work - and I don’t really have any on-farm experience with animals,″ said Calcott, a native of London who has taught biochemistry and molecular biology at universities.
″I want to understand issues that are important to the Meyers - what improvements they need.″
The scientists will be visiting at crucial times such as planting and harvest.
″Farmers notice every little thing and they will point out anything strange like a bug on a leaf - and, sure enough it turns out to be something new,″ said Sorensen. ″They can turn on a lightbulb for the scientists.″
Mrs. Meyer said she and her husband would show Calcott how they raise corn and soybeans - two important ingredients in livestock rations - and how they care for their hogs.
″We’ll make him one of the family, and he’ll do some of the work,″ she said. ″We’re excited about this. We just need a better understanding among all of us in agriculture.″