Land O’Lakes Inc. – Elizabeth Buescher: Leading the way in ag tech at the WinField United Innovation Center
Just east of Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s Arden Hills headquarters and across the Saint Croix River sits WinField United’s Innovation Center in River Falls, Wisconsin. Curious to learn more? Follow along as we launch a blog series highlighting the brilliant people who work at the Innovation Center and their groundbreaking work.
Elizabeth Buescher comes from a long line of farmers; her father has traced her family back four generations. She recalls, “I’ve thought about how to best care for the soil and how to help growers get the most out of their soil and the most out of their money since I was in high school.” It’s this passion that led her to pursue her doctorate in agronomy from Purdue University, where she focused on molecular biology.
A look into Elizabeth’s workday
Today, Elizabeth leads a phenotyping lab at the WinField United Innovation Center. The Innovation Center recently purchased a new phenotyping machine that measures plant characteristics without having to do manual measurements.
“This phenotyping system is going to connect so many important pieces of the puzzle,” she says. “Cameras move throughout the greenhouse to scan each plant. Then, we look at the data to inform decisions.”
The phenotyping lab supports all departments at the Innovation Center. For example, it could evaluate how products perform on plants and screen new biological products for effectiveness. This technology could help WinField United find the best biological products and understand where to test them in the field.
Advice for young people pursuing careers in STEM or agriculture
Elizabeth encourages young people to find what they’re passionate about and keep working at it.
“Perseverance is the key. Don’t take no for an answer,” she says. “There will always be roadblocks in the way, so you just have to keep going.”
Elizabeth has found strength and inspiration from her role model, Nobel Prize winning scientist Barbara McClintock, who, despite facing many roadblocks, made significant discoveries in genetics.
“I think about when you have those moments where you recognize there’s a roadblock in your way because you’re a woman. Barbara just didn’t take no for an answer,” Elizabeth says. “She funded her own research through the university without any support. I think of her often in those moments. I wish I could say that those moments didn’t still happen.”
Elizabeth also reminds young people that nobody’s path is a straight line, but, “they’ll be able to go through the twists and turns of every career if they find their passion—that North Star—to keep focusing on and that they can always go back to.”