How can students learn about ag-related research and how to evaluate data? In that pursuit, 14 teachers gathered at the Ohio State University’s Western Agricultural Research Station to learn about the role of technology in agriculture. The “Experiencing tech in ag” workshop, sponsored by OSU and Education Projects, gave teachers 2 days of field experience.

Dr. Alex Lindsey, the main presenter, said the main goal of the workshop was to help introduce teachers to new concepts, practices, and career opportunities in agriculture for students. “Additionally, we wanted to provide teachers with usable modules and experiences to help meet learning standards by teaching concepts that are relevant in agriculture.”

Jan Sonnenberg, Patrick Henry High School, said she really liked learning about the varied STEM and engineering careers associated with agriculture. “This is the cutting edge of ag!”

Teachers learned about crop production and cover crop use. Mike Gilkey of 3D Aerial demonstrated an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Dr. Elizabeth Hawkins, OSU Department of Extension, talked to the group about Precision Agriculture. Dr. Alex Lindsey and Jeff Sillman of Upper Arlington High School led the participants through a spreadsheet training activity.

In plots at the research station, teachers used technology to assess and measure different variables.

  • The GreenSeeker handheld device’s optical sensors measure and quantify the variability of the crop. It can then ‘prescribe’ the right amount of fertilizer to apply for maximum yield.

  • The Canopeo app uses a smart phone camera to collect plant canopy cover data. This data helps planters determine how planting date influences yield.

  • The Canopeo app also assess how well cover crops are established, allowing them to determine if the practice of ‘inter-seeding’ is effective. Cover crops prevent erosion and nutrient leaching and also protect water quality.

After gathering data, teachers learned how to analyze the data using common statistical formulas to determine the effects of experimental treatments.

The field tour explained what kind of research is being done, how it is set up, and what variables are included. Currently, there are about 230 projects going on over 300 acres. All aspects of agronomic production are being tested at the station, mostly corn and soybean.

Research includes corn defoliation that will help insurance companies better predict yield loss due to hail and other types of damage. Another plot compares nitrogen application to soil and to foliage and how that affects yield.

Farm manager Joe Davlin said there are opportunities for interns to come and help at the station: “Anything to promote ag and help people learn more!”

Next summer, we’ll offer 2 more workshops on similar topics in 2 different locations in the state. Watch and our social media for information!