Note: The dates in this diary are arranged in
reverse order with the newest dates listed first. The 'thumbnail' images below
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1 & 2 Sep 2001: Routine Maze Maintenance
- Over the weekend, several dedicated Maze Masters took the initiative
to clean up the foxtail, lambsquarter and velvetleaf weeds that had taken
advantage of the sunlit trails and window area of the maze. The main entrance
to the Boiler Mazer was also widened by removing an additional row of corn
30 July 2001: GPS 101 (A Class on GPS Technologies)
- Twelve fifth and sixth graders and thirteen parents from Wea Ridge
Elementary School in Tippecanoe County braved blazing heat from the sun,
sweltering humidity, and swarming insects to trek through the Boiler Mazer.
Read about their corn field science fun and
look at their results.
27 July 2001: Widened the Entrance
- The main entrance of the maze was widened by removing one additional
row of corn.
13 July 2001: Routine Maze Maintenance
- Additional maze path mowing and hoeing of weeds was performed by a
crew of eight stalwart Maze Masters. Aerial imagery taken earlier in the week
illustrates how nicely the maze design is filling in as the corn develops and
approaches the tasseling stage. Brenda Hofmann, Jackie Wilson, and Bob Nielsen
avoided most of the hard labor by 'playing' with several handheld GPS
receivers, a palm computer and field mapping software as they prepared for
future elementary school GPS field trips to the Boiler Mazer.
5 July 2001: Routine Maze Maintenance
- A group of four Maze Masters returned to the maze (7a.m.) to hand
weed the paths as well as the growing crop areas that were missed on the last
trip. Dissection of the corn regrowth showed the growing point to be about one
inch above the ground. After working on weeding until noon, the crew navigated
a path around the maze with a handheld recreational GPS receiver (Garmin
28 June 2001: Second Mowing of the Maze
- Since the
points of the plants at the time of the June 19th mowing were not yet
elevated uniformly above the height of the mower cut, there was
regrowth occurring in the
and especially in the
of the Boilermaker Special. Today, a small squad of dedicated maze mowers
returned with two self-propelled industrial grade mowers to mow all of the maze
design areas again.
- The crew headed to the maze about 7 a.m. with two self-propelled,
walk-behind mowers and sturdy hoes. The mowers were used to cut any weeds and
regrowth corn in the accessible paths. The hoes were used to tidy up the
lettering and other areas not accessible by the mowers. Hoes and hands were
used to remove weeds within the corn areas of the maze.
The Maze Design In Its Initial Glory, 19 June
19 June 2001: Mowing the Maze
- We've been impatiently waiting for the corn to reach a sufficient
height for us to cut the design into the standing corn. Today was the day! The
corn was finally at
stage V6 (six visible leaf collars) and approximately knee-high.
- We hauled two heavy-duty professional mowers (self-propelled) from
Throckmorton-Purdue Ag. Center and set about the task of
giving the corn field a fancy haircut. One or more Maze Masters walked in front
of each mower to verify the direction of the painted trail and ensure that the
mower operator stayed 'on track'. This verification process also served to
ensure that we did not miss any of the marked trails in this 5-acre maze.
- One mower was narrower (3-ft mower deck) than the other (5-ft deck)
and was somewhat easier to handle. The smaller mower was used for the initial
cutting of the trail and lasted a couple of hours until a bearing in the clutch
assembly went bad. After a quick trip back to Purdue's research farm, another
small mower was pressed into service and finished the maze cutting job.
- The small mowers were also the primary tools used for cutting the
letters of PURDUE and FARM PROGRESS out of
the standing corn because of their narrower cutting width and the fact that the
mower had to be lifted from letter to letter in order not to flatten corn
stalks in between letters.
- The larger mower followed the trail of the smaller mower to widen the
trail to approximately five feet. One of our more illustrious Maze Masters
documented the progress of the larger mower on a paper copy of the maze design
by tracing the mowed paths with a red ink pen. Similar to the verification
process followed with the narrower mowing, this ensured that we widened all of
the trails that were targeted for widening.
- Slowly and surely the outlines of the maze began to take shape. The
main entrance, while not yet impressive, was at last firmly in place. The
graceful curves of the front of the boiler engine of the
Special' invite the maze walker to meander down the paths. The forks in the
trails already challenge you to make decisions. The large window of the train
is finally clear of corn plants and you can almost feel the wind rushing by as
the train races down the tracks.
- Enduring sweat, blowing dust and the blazing heat of the summer sun;
the Purdue Maze Masters successfully completed the mowing of the Boiler Mazer
by midday. The trails will need to be maintained throughout the summer to
suppress any surviving corn plants and opportunistic weeds that decide to take
advantage of the sunlit trails. But for now, all is well with the world of
13 June 2001: Repainting the Maze Design
- The road marking paint used to mark the maze design on the ground
held up pretty well during the weeks of rainy weather, but began to fade
rapidly once the sunny weather returned. Because of the fading paint lines, the
entire maze design was repainted today to ensure that the lines would be
visible on the day when the design would actually be mowed into the standing
23 - 24 May 2001: Laying Out the Maze Design
- When the young corn was at the 1-leaf collar stage of development,
the maze design was staked and painted (road marking paint) on the field
surface with the use of GPS-enabled handheld computers and field mapping
software that could display the digitized georeferenced file copy of the maze
design. A crack team of dedicated maze masters worked feverishly in between
rain showers and lightning to navigate the maze trails using geospatial
technologies, stake intersections and dead ends, and paint the center lines of
11 May 2001: Planting the Maze
- The five-acre maze area was planted to corn in a checkerboard fashion
(30-inch centers) with a targeted plant population of 35,000 plants per acre.
The nitrogen fertilizer and chemical herbicides were applied to the field prior
Late winter/early spring 2001:
Brainstorming and Designing the Maze
- A small group of dedicated maze-ologists met regularly during the
late winter and early spring months to brainstorm the maze ideas and come up
with a maze design. Sharon Katz, Purdue Ag. Communication Dept., accepted the
challenge of designing the maze to resemble the Purdue 'Boilermaker Special'
emblem. After Sharon completed that task, the design was converted into a
georeferenced image and positioned over the geographic coordinates of the area
of the Farm Progress Show site that had been assigned to be the maze area.
For More Information....
more information about geospatial technologies for crop production, take a look
at Purdue's Site-Specific Management Center on the World Wide Web at
information about corn, take a look at the Corn Growers Guidebook on the World
Wide Web at http://www.kingcorn.org. For more information about corn
mazes, check out the Corny Mazes
section of KingCorn.org.
It is the policy of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal
opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race,
color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Purdue University is
an Affirmative Action employer. This material may be available in alternative
© 2001, Purdue University
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