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In a sea of turfgrass, an island of corn

DCIM124GOPROYou wouldn’t be surprised to see corn being planted when you flew over a UW Ag Research Station in May—unless you happen to be flying over the O.J. Noer turfgrass research facility just west of Madison. But the above photo was shot from a drone over a field tucked between the Noer turfgrass plots and the greens and fairways of the adjacent University Ridge golf course.

“We’re planting field corn in isoloation,” explains Dustin Eilert, program manager for field corn breeding and genetics in the agronomy department (the guy tinkering with the planter in the photo). “We planting away from other plots, to avoid pollen drift from other corn” at the West Madison station, a couple miles south, or anywhere else.

The plots are part of research undertaken by agronomy associate professor Natalia De Leon as part of a large multistate collaboration to develop and test hybrids suited to a changing climate, Eilert explains. The project also has plots at West Madison and the Arlington ARS.