Spring is here, and it is time for planting! The Ohio Soybean Council and GrowNextGen made it possible for everyone to be a part of spring planting with Wood County farmer Nathan Eckel. Eckel hosted a virtual field trip on his farm, talking about farming, soybeans, planting, and more.

Ohio Soybean Council Director of Research and Education Tom Fontana introduced Eckel and also relayed questions from the audience participants. 77 teachers representing 6800 students from all over the country and Canada registered for this event, and others joined through the live feed on GrowNextGen’s virtual field trip page.

Eckel explained that he is a 5th generation farmer, planting soybeans, corn, wheat, some alfalfa for his animals, and various cover crops. The virtual field trip took place on his last day of planting beans, as he was trying to finish before rain began.

Eckel talked about his planter and showed the various parts and how it worked. He explained that the weather has been dry and cool lately, which will affect the growth of the beans. He invited the students to try an experiment of wrapping some seeds in a damp paper towel and placing them on a sunny windowsill, then doing the same thing and placing them in the refrigerator. Which will germinate first? He compared the current ground temperature, with many cool mornings, to the seeds in the refrigerator.

In response to audience questions, Eckel showed how the auto-steer mechanism on his tractor works. He also talked about the many ways soybeans are used, how seed treatments help growth, and the prevalence of technology in agriculture. One person asked about the important career opportunities in agriculture over the next ten years. Eckel mentioned drones and their aid in determining how to manage fertilizer application with precision. Fontana pointed out the importance of transportation and logistics, exports, soybean breeders, and seed salesmen.

This video is available to watch any time at on the GrowNextGen YouTube channel, along with other virtual field trip offerings.