What used to be routine work on the family’s swine farm for Kacie Haag turned into a passion over time through her supervised agricultural experience (SAE). Her research focuses on soil nitrogen levels and figuring out the best practices to reduce the farm’s environmental impact as well as increasing potential yield.
After she took soil samples to measure nutrient levels, the next step for Haag, who hails from the Tri-Point FFA Chapter in Cullom, Ill., came from a field day experience in 2013.
“I was doing the management for the farm, and I went to a field day where I met with Dr. Howard Brown. He got me interested in N-Watch, which is now N-Tracker, where I take samples of the soil to test the amount of nitrogen at that given point,” she said. “I just started doing experiments after that. After I’d find one hypothesis and did some testing on it, it would spark another question.”
That same year, Haag researched nitrogen movement in the soil on four farms that used both manure and commercial fertilizer. As she presented her year of research at another conference, studying water nitrate levels to indicate fertilizer runoff caught her eye, so she added onto her research by taking soil and water samples for N-Watch to measure nitrates.
“I’ve grown up in agriculture my entire life,” Haag said. “What really motivates me is the people who were not raised in it. They know nothing about where their food comes from, and it really sparked my passion to teach them more and want to keep learning myself while I’m able to teach others.”
Looking toward her future career, Haag said she wants to continue working on the family farm but also serve as an agriculture educator.
“Whether that’s for the extension office where I can share research studies with others or whether that’s an ag-in-the-classroom job where I can just teach people where their food comes from, I definitely would want to do that,” she said.