UACES Facebook McFall wins NE Arkansas Regional Science/Engineering Fair Soybean Challenge
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McFall wins NE Arkansas Regional Science/Engineering Fair Soybean Challenge

By KD Reep
U of A System Division of Agriculture
July 15, 2016

(579 words)

MONETTE, Ark. – A project centered on the testing of an irrigation sensor earned a Buffalo Central High junior the top spot in the Northeast Arkansas Regional Soybean Challenge at the 2016 Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair. 

Darrin McFall, 17, of Monette, received a $300 cash award at the regional level, which was provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. His science project involved the application and testing of an Irrigation Advance System Sensor Unit for Water Management placed in cotton and soybean fields. 

“The most important conclusion of my project so far is that the progression of water used in irrigation could be monitored using the sensor unit tested,” McFall said. “The unit can easily track the flow of water horizontally and vertically and will later be applied to use in fields.” 

Since the area in which he lives has extensive amounts of farmland, McFall had a general knowledge of farming and knew quite a bit about cotton, soybeans and corn. The Soybean Science Challenge online course did enlighten McFall in several areas. “I found the many uses of soybeans interesting. The issue of having to produce more food possibly through mega-farms was the most useful information for my research,” he said. 

Mandy McFall, Darrin’s mother and a science teacher at Buffalo Island, said it was exciting for him to win this award. “We live in a large farming community, and my background is in row crops,” she said. “I love that he has the same passion for agriculture that I do and that he understands the importance of the future of our food supply.” 

McFall plans to extend his current research through the next year to possibly incorporate it in field trials. “These trials will include tests on row crops such as cotton or soybeans to possibly increase yields using less water,” he said. 

“My participation in the Soybean Science Challenge has allowed me to approach research in a new way as I have not worked with crops before,” McFall said. “I have learned a lot about soybeans and hope to continue learning through applying my research towards soybean development.” 

Engaging and rewarding students in real-world educational research that supports the Arkansas soybean industry and agricultural sustainability is the goal of The Challenge, which opened in 2014 to 9-12 grade Arkansas science students. Students who successfully completed the online course were eligible to have their original soybean-related projects judged at the 2016 ISEF affiliated Arkansas science and engineering fairs.

“The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award program is in its fourth year partnership between the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board,” said Karen Ballard, developer and director of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award program at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

“The goal of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is to engage students in ‘real world’ education to support soybean production and agricultural sustainability,” said Shannon Davis, past president of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. “The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas soybean industry.” 

For more information on the 2016-2017 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge, contact Dr. Karen Ballard at 501.671.2086 or For more information on soybeans, visit or contact your county extension office.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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