LRSC Precision Ag Program – Preparing Tomorrow’s Ag Workforce Today
It’s called Precision Agriculture and sometimes referenced as Digital Agriculture, but at Lake Region State College, the Precision Agriculture program is rooted in traditional agriculture where students learn all components of agriculture with a hands-on approach.
Preston Sundeen, director of the Precision Ag program at Lake State College said the program ensures students have a solid base with soil science, weed science, management, and other areas while also introducing them to the precision ag technologies equipment, software and practices.
Sundeen and other instructors with the Precision Ag program know the importance of balancing new technologies that enhance ag operations and are sustainable for producers.
“Students enrolled in the Precision Ag program are returning to a family farm and ranch operation, entering the ag industry as a skilled professional, or continuing their education toward a bachelor’s degree or more,” he said.
Efficiency has spurred the adoption of various forms of precision agriculture technologies. The variability in soils and surrounding ecosystems demand better use of information to benefit all. The technology that precision agriculture offers collects immense amounts of data that assists in making field management decisions.
“Technology will play a bigger role each year,” Sundeen said.
Industry partnerships and guest lecturers keep the latest happenings and technologies in front of the students. Students also participate in many seminars, trainings, and field trips.
This January, ag faculty participated in the precision ag summit held in Jamestown, ND.
This fall, the program showcased to 65,000 high school students during the National Future Farmer of America conference in Indianapolis Oct. 24th through 27th. The opportunity to attend came through the Cenex Harvest States Foundation, which supports LRSC Precision Ag with scholarships and program enhancement. The CHS Foundation funded the purchase of the combine simulator that was on display at the FFA convention. The simulator is used in classroom application, workforce training for producers and laborers, and at outreach events to showcase the precision ag program.
Other trips this year included a visit to potash mines in Manitoba and the Budweiser brewery in Moorhead, Minnesota. Students and faculty in the program attended the Precision Planting winter conference held in Fargo, ND.
The program also does service projects and hosts special events. Last summer the students grew produce as part of a community garden that resulted in hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables for the area food pantry. Students and faculty highlighted the program for the community during a special event that also had a keynote by Damian Mason.
And LRSC students who enroll in the precision ag program are preparing to to take agriculture into the future, whether working in the family operation or one of the various ag-related service industries.
LRSC also is working with other colleges to expand their ag education offerings.
A partnership between Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College, and Williston State College, will bring an agricultural degree to the DCB campus.
Starting in Fall 2019, Dakota College at Bottineau (DCB) will be offering a program in agriculture. DCB will partner with Lake Region State College and Williston State College for the delivery of certain courses for this program. Learning opportunities will continue to grow as technology advances for the betterment of production agriculture, whether it be in the form of unmanned aerial systems, emerging software, or other undiscovered agriculture revolution. Lake Region State College’s ag program will be there to tackle those activities to produce graduates ready for the task.
For more information on LRSC or its Precision Ag Program, go to LRSC.edu or call (701) 662-1600.