Ag technology connects to a bounty of careers

At July’s Ag Biotech Academy, Dupont Pioneer Field Agronomist Jonah Johnson and Product Agronomist Matt Stroud spoke to educators about developments in agricultural technology. Farmers want to grow food more cheaply and meet the world’s demands for food. Technology can help reach these goals through the use of precision agriculture, drones and seed treatments. Drones can provide visuals of fields from the air, giving information about plant health in each section: Overuse of fertilizers? Not enough nutrients? Crop stressors? The lighter green area in the photo indicates a problem with nitrogen application.

Computers in farm machinery allows wireless data transfer so the farmer can monitor information about the machinery. Equipment can be set to deliver nutrients to specific areas in the needed amounts as the equipment passes over the fields.

How big is too big? Large equipment has caused soil compaction problems, but lighter-weight autonomous equipment will be kinder to the soil, use different kinds of fuel and allow more hours in the field.

Both Johnson and Stroud discussed the wide variety of careers related to the agricultural industry, such as seed sales, agronomy, computers, communications, soil and plant science, transportation and logistics.

“The amount of technology used is incredible,” said Heath science teacher Nathan Snedecker. “This helps students see the connection between the classroom and the real world, and presents a good model for problem-solving, as the technology has developed in response to problems.”

“Learning about this really gets away from stereotypes about agriculture being just farming,” said Alyssa Vickers, a high school science teacher from Heath. “There are so many careers, all different parts of the puzzle.”