When Katherine Fazzino’s father and grandfather, both farmers, needed an organic fertilizer that increased crop yields but would not damage the soil, Katherine not only found a product, but she also researched its effects for four years.
“When I came across Hydra-Hume, I really wanted to test it because it was the one [that] said it could do everything, and I wanted to prove that it would—and it actually does, which is really exciting,” Katherine said.
For her agriscience supervised agricultural experience (SAE), Katherine—from the Rudder FFA chapter in Bryan, Texas—studied the effects of Hydra-Hume on corn. In her first year of the project, she tested corn yield rates on plants in separated cups, using four different doses of Hydra-Hume. She found that the corn that received an amount of Hydra-Hume slightly under the recommended amount proved the best yields.
Then, she took her research into the field, using Hydra-Hume in corn test plots without additional water, simulating a real-life farming operation. After garnering similar results to her first controlled experiment, Katherine wanted to see if adding nitrogen and charcoal to the Hydra-Hume application would result in less water runoff; this experiment started in a controlled setting, with the corn plants in cups, and moved into a large test plot. The results proved positive.
“Surprisingly it didn’t really let any of the water out,” Katherine said. “It held 85 percent of the water and the nitrogen in the soil. So I put the nitrogen on it with the charcoal additive to make sure that it was all binding together with the ions.”
Through her research and FFA experience, Katherine said she learned a lot about dedication, responsibility and commitment.
Now a student at Texas A&M University studying agricultural economics, Katherine’s advice for FFA members interested in research is to find a field of study they are passionate about.
“You actually get involved … and the light that lights up in your eyes when you’re talking about something you love is priceless compared to anything else,” she said.