Precision Ag is a Cutting-Edge Field

ag technology

Grab the car keys. Start the engine. Turn on the GPS. When we’re traveling somewhere new, this is the normal routine for most. We rely heavily on one piece of technology to get us from place to place. But did you know farmers also rely heavily on these technologies? This field is commonly known as precision agriculture, a form of management that utilizes site-specific information, technology, and data for ideal profitability and sustainability. The technique allows farmers to divide their land into smaller areas to manage individually as opposed to looking at large fields and treating them alike. Methods might include crop rotation, irrigation or growing crops in a wide range of soil environments.

For example, a 100-acre cornfield may have varying needs for water or nutrients. Through technology, the farmer can map the field and then program his equipment to only apply the specific needs for that plot of ground, instead of the same amount applied to the full 100 acres. This saves money for the farmer, increases yield and productivity, and is better for the environment, too.

“Precision agriculture embraces the concepts of economics, agronomy and engineering and offers students cutting-edge information on the agricultural industry,” says Jacob Maurer, precision agriculture curriculum specialist for Highland Community College in Kansas. “This career field brings together the interests of traditional and non-traditional agriculturists, and it broadens the horizon of agriculture as a result.” Consider these five precision agriculture careers:

Ag Engineering

Technology, technology and more technology. These workers are committed to integrating technology into daily agricultural practices. They are concerned with the design, development and improvement of equipment to ensure greater efficiency for farmers. Participating in the National FFA Agriscience Fair in the Power, Structural and Technical Systems division allows FFA members to learn more about this career choice.

Ag Sales

Now that engineers have developed this technology, how do we encourage agriculturists to use it? The answer lies within the strong interpersonal skills of trained sales professionals communicating the benefits of these technologies. Participating in chapter fundraisers can build a foundation for skills needed in a sales career.

Agronomy

Agronomists study soil and plants to discover ways to increase productivity. These professionals work hard to determine ways to raise more food on less land. The soil judging and agronomy career development events are perfect ways to learn more about this career.

Crop Modeling

Since 1818, one of the most valuable resources to farmers has been the Farmers’ Almanac for its longrange data predictions. Today, if we take the almanac and add more tasks, we arrive at a crop modeler. These individuals analyze weather conditions, soil quality and crop management practices to estimate yield. Managing a chapter greenhouse can provide excellent experience for this career.

Precision Ag Specialization

Comparing and contrasting data and technology are the skills these specialists need. They use computers to develop or analyze maps of land and compare physical topography of soil, fertilizer, pests and weather. Interested in geospatial technology? This job is the one for you. Start gaining experience now in this field by riding with local agronomists or visiting a university with a precision agriculture program to learn more about the new technologies available in agriculture.

– Amy Morgan