Face to face with field technology

Dr. Diane Kahle, a math and computer science teacher from Upper Arlington, wrote this article for GrowNextGen:

On a hot, sunny September day, forty suburban high school students hopped on a school bus headed for an unlikely destination: the Ohio Farm Science Review. Accompanied by their teacher Diane Kahle and Jane Hunt of the Ohio Soybean Council, their mission was to learn about innovations in technology in today’s world. The students are taking the new AP Computer Science Principles course at Upper Arlington High School. This course includes standards related to exploring innovations in technology, understanding how data is used in the world, and implications of technology in society, economy, or culture.

Students were prepared with questions in various branches of agriculture, from innovations in seed technology to manure handling, and they set out to discuss current trends with representatives from organizations attending the Review. Cody Light from AGCO explained the data collection process in tractors and combines as the students watched data being analyzed on a computer screen from machines currently active in Florida. This spurred discussions about how much this technology costs and how much more efficient and productive farming can be when data analysis is involved.

Later that day the group observed a drone demonstration. Students watched as a drone used GPS technology to scan the perimeter of a field, then go back over in rows to take infra-red photographs. These images would be data stitched back together to determine the phosphorus levels in the soil, thus indicating the amount of fertilizer and water needed to maximize crop yield.

Previously the majority of these suburban kids had not thought twice about where the food on their tables really comes from or about the significance of agriculture in our state and in the world. The students returned to the classroom to capture their learning in group presentations by making movies about the effects of the innovations they had seen. The students’ eyes were opened that day as they now view agriculture as a progressive industry that uses data and innovations to continually improve itself.

Thank you to the Career Education department at Upper Arlington City Schools and to Jane Hunt of the Ohio SoyBean Council for making our trip possible!