FVTC preparing farmers for the future

October 29, 2013

From fox11online.com: “Technology takes hold in agriculture” — GRAND CHUTE – The fall harvest is well underway.

And before many farmers even enter the field, they’re using technology to plot their strategy.

As combines roll through the farm fields of Northeast Wisconsin, many are guided by GPS. Not necessarily technology that’s new to the farming industry, but technology that has taken off in the last five years.

“It really depends on the grower, how progressive they are, but we are seeing huge leaps and bounds on the precision ag side of it,” said Brad Birzer of Larson Cooperative in New London.

Birzer should know. Precision farming technology is his specialty.

He’s testing planter row units for accuracy, the kind of technology used in the spring that produces results like this in the fall. The kind of technology being taught in the only program of its kind in the state at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute.

“Precision ag is the bridge between the iron that you see behind me and the agronomists that help the farmers make their cropping decisions,” said Fox Valley Technical College Precision Ag Instructor Joe Sinkula.

As technology takes over more aspects of farming, students are getting a first-hand look at the future.

“It takes farming to the next level as far as I’m concerned and it helps the farmer to be more efficient,” said Shawn Wesener of Cleveland.

Birzer says the technology can range from just a few thousand dollars to $40,000 or more, but farmers will see the benefits in increased yields and greater efficiencies.

Birzer says most farmers are using at least some enhanced technology these days. And these students are getting hands on training for what is becoming a hands off industry.

The one-year precision agriculture degree program officially begins at Fox Valley Technical College in January.

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