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LRSC and CHS partner for ag education

By   Erin Wood

Advances soar when industry and education work together.

Such partnership is visible in a 40-acre field north of Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. Here, the college’s Precision Ag program students have planted, tested, treated, and harvested its first corn crop.

Thanks to support from regional Cenex Harvest States, the Dakota Precision Ag Center (DPAC) at Lake Region State College has been able to take its DPAC 40 and make a learning tool for students, said Preston Sundeen, director and faculty for the Precision Ag program.

The Precision Ag program at LRSC offers an immense focus on experiential learning. Students work on everything today’s producers touch: equipment, soils, inputs, drones, marketing, and software.

“Raising a crop on the DPAC 40 gave students real-life experience and a live learning lab and Cenex Harvest States helped make it a reality,” he said.

Local Cenex Harvest States representatives worked with LRSC Precision Ag students and faculty throughout the year from planning, field preparation, planting, observing, chemical application, and harvest. The Precision Ag program also was able to work with test plots throughout the region in Penn, Webster, Edmore, Langdon, Doyon, Lakota, and Devils Lake

CHS is committed to strong community ties and welcomes the opportunity to advance ag education.

“The precision program at Lake Region State College shows the dedication to agriculture and CHS values the opportunity to help students learn for the future of Agriculture,” said Jeremy Safranski, CHS sales manager.

This year’s harvest project wasn’t a textbook scenario as the 2017 growing season presented students with real-life challenges, Sundeen said.

Harvest became a race against the clock and Mother Nature. As snow entered the forecast earlier this fall, the students learned about beating the weather. Students also handled the pressure of running low on storage. With trucks full, the last load was put in the precision ag program’s shop floor with tables acting as bunkers to keep the pile of corn in one spot.

All in all, the partnership proved to be a big benefit to student learning.

“We have 40 acres of land that students can write prescriptions for, conduct soil and crop sampling, configure variable application rates for fall fertilizer…it’s a place where students can experience the whole growing cycle. So much of what we do here is thanks to that 40 acres of crop,” Sundeen said.

These opportunities along with internships give students an advantage when heading into the workforce.

“The Precision Ag program at LRSC is so much more than classroom activities and theory. We put the kids in the simulators, labs, greenhouses, and in the fields to experience every aspect of raising crops. The more we can expose students to all aspects of precision agriculture, the better prepared they are for their future careers,” Sundeen said.

And in the end, the partnership benefits the entire region, Safranski said.

“This was a great mutual commitment. The college has helped students learn we have had the college help CHS staff learn as well as our farmer owners through the help of accurate Innovation plots and seed trial plots,” Safranski said.