We all know the complexity and challenges of precision farming technology, along with the value of a local technician who can resolve issues quickly. Since change is rampant in this industry, quality education leading to skilled employees is paramount.
To this end, it’s always refreshing to know that companies are working with universities to make sure today’s students are gaining practical experience and hands-on learning—along with critical thinking and communications skills.
Iowa State University began a Precision Ag Lab in 2007, thanks to the donation of equipment, software and support by Ag Leader Technology. “I’ve been working with Matt Darr, who teaches the TSM (Technology Systems Management) 333 ‘Precision Farming Systems’ course every fall semester,” says Michael Vos, Software Sales Manager at Ag Leader.
Vos has worked with Darr since he was in the graduate program at Ohio State University before his arrival at Iowa State. Now they work together to make the class the best it can be. And not only do Iowa State students benefit, but so do students at South Dakota State, Kansas State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Off-site students at the three partner universities will watch the recorded lectures. For the lab work, Iowa State sends each ag engineering college the precision ag hardware, SMS software, simulation software and complete installation instruction to set up their own lab.
“In the lab, students have a computer with a precision agriculture display next to it. The computer has simulations of planting, spraying and harvesting, giving hands-on experience in running each task, recording data, transferring data to our SMS software, writing prescriptions, working with aerial imagery, soil samples and much, much more,” Vos says.
Vos, backed by his ten years of experience with Ag Leader since he graduated from Iowa State, also guest lecturers in Darr’s class. “I give students perspectives into the world of precision agriculture, the types of jobs available, as well as answer many questions during the course. We want to make sure students have a fundamental understanding of the complexity of this technology, the critical thinking skills needed to make processes and technology work, and as much hands-on experience as they can get to help prepare them to resolve conflict—in sensors and people,” Vos says.
Visit these links for more information.
2007 Story on Ag Leader Creates Precision Ag Lab at ISU
ISU Technology Systems Management (TSM) Program
ISU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering