Scholarships and Special Awards

RaeAnn Klimesh E.Wayne Cooley Scholarship 2015-2016

Scholarships and Special Awards

FFA'er creates Trygves Test Plot and Castalia Cropcam
Jean Caspers-Simmet, Apr 26, 2016

Trygve Lien Agri Star Award

CASTALIA, Iowa — Trygve Lien's curiosity about agronomy led him to create a test plot and weather station, embark on a volunteer soil sampling project and start a small farming operation.

People visit his Castalia Cropcam site on Weather Underground for local climate details; follow his blog, Trygves Test Plot; and attend his open house each fall. He has raised 300 bushel corn and 98 bushel soybeans.

Not bad for a high school senior.

Lien, a member of South Winneshiek FFA, won the FFA Stars Over Iowa — Agri-Science division at last week's Iowa FFA Leadership Conference. The award is given to one outstanding Iowa FFA Degree recipient each year.

Lien also won the Agri-Science Plant Research Proficiency award, the 2016 Growmark essay contest and was selected to participate in the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute later this month.

He has been FFA chapter reporter and vice president and was honored as Star Greenhand and Star Chapter Farmer. He attended the Washington Leadership Conference last summer. He has served on his church council and volunteers at Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah and at Senior Hospice. He was the 2015 Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award winner.

Lien's FFA advisor and agriculture instructor is Melissa Brincks.

Lien will attend Iowa State University next fall and major in agronomy and minoring in climatology.

His parents are Sandra, a librarian for South Winneshiek Community School District, and Kelly, a truck driver. Lien's younger sister, Anna-Britt, will start FFA next year. She is taking over Lien's bee project while he is at college. The family collects heritage farm equipment, Allis-Chalmers, AGCO and Case.

"I use some of the equipment in my farming operation, and I've purchased some of my own equipment in the past year, including a tractor and planter," Lien said.

The Liens raised alfalfa and wheat on their acreage and Lien decided to rent an acre from a neighbor to grow corn. He pulled a soil sample, took it to his ag supplier and fertilized according to their recommendations.

"A few years ago, we (Lien and his father) took a class and learned to read soil samples, Lien said. "We went back and looked at that first soil sample and realized the recommendation was incorrect by a lot. I started a test plot to test different variables to determine the best decisions a farmer can make, and I also implemented soil sampling. It's something I take very seriously."

He pulls soil samples for area farmers at no cost. They pay to have the sample sent in and tested. He shows them how to read the sample. He uses the Ag PhD Soil Test app on his phone.

He learned to read soil samples from Ag PhD. He has gone to their clinics, consulted their website and attended a field day at Baltic, S.D.

He has worked with a farmer near Calmar who had a 50-acre corn field that looked great but yielded poorly. Lien's sampling found the field lacked nutrients. He uploaded the soil sample test results into Ag PhD's system, and the farmer will use his recommendations this year.

This is the third year of Trygves Test Plot. The first year, he compared corn with a low management system — fertilize, plant, spray and harvest — versus a high management system. The high management side "got some of the extras" — starter fertilizer, QuickRoots, a microbial seed inoculant, foliar fertilizer and Lumax, a top-end herbicide. His father, a certified pesticide applicator, does the spraying.

Lien shares what he's doing in the growing season on his blog. He hosts a field day in August or September, and farmers come to see the test plot, get his findings and have something to eat.

Elywnn Taylor, Extension climatologist, has attended Lien's field day several times. Taylor advised him on which weather station to purchase and has agreed to be Lien's mentor at ISU.

Last year's test plot looked at high and low management soybean systems. Lien is testing whether corn with added traits is worth the extra money this year.

Golden Harvest P52 will be used in the traited side and will be paired with Viking 89-99N in the untraited side. AgriGold A6257, traited and untraited corn, also will be compared.

Farmers like that they can get soil temperature and moisture, as well as air temperature, wind speed and leaf wetness, from Lien's weather station. The camera shows crop progress. Data is uploaded from the Davis weather station to a computer that sits on the kitchen counter and then is uploaded to the Internet.

Lien farms small parcels of land he rents, 10 acres on five different patches. Large farmers with big machinery don't want to bother with the small, odd-sized parcels. His older, moderate-sized equipment works well.

He upgraded from a 1960s planter to a 1990s Case Cyclo Air 900 planter and bought a 7020 Allis-Chalmers tractor he plans to use this year.

"It gets the job done, and it's paid for," he said of his older equipment. "It works beautifully for me."

Lien's career goal is to own his own agronomy company and sell seed and other farm supplies.

"First, I'd like to get a job with a co-op and build my experience before I go out on my own," he said.

To read Trygves Test Plot blog, go to

Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation

Trygve Lien

Dear South Winneshiek Administration:

Each year the Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation, invites all Iowa juniors to apply for the uncommon student award. This award is given to 15 students who propose and then accomplish a project of their own choosing that will positively impact their community, the great state of Iowa and the World. Each award winner receives $1,000 and an opportunity to receive a $5,000 college scholarship. This year the Foundation had 595 juniors apply for this award. We are proud to announce that Trygve Lien has been awarded the 2015 Uncommon Student Award, a first for South Winneshiek CSD. Congratulations!.