Through this space, I try to open up a dialog each week about Agronomy, Agriculture, and Precision Ag. Sometimes that means showcasing new Precision Ag Products or giving the reminders and the nudges you need to think about when it comes to planters and combines during the busiest times of the year. Of course, it can also include the basics of agronomy like Nutrient uptake and Irrigation Management. But, it’s also important to remember that other aspects are possibly more important to all of us than the day to day grind of Production Ag. Over the past two weeks, I got my annual reminder of that as I worked with some of Ag Students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.
Every year, I get a couple of different chances to get involved with the local Community College here in Norfolk. For the past 4 or 5 years, I have gotten to come in and be a guest speaker for a day or two in the Spring Semester for a Precision Ag Theory class. In that setting, we discuss the nuances of soil tests, how to put GIS software to work in a business setting. It is an enlightening conversation when we discuss how to take things like Intensive Soil Sampling home to their farms, or to their new boss at an Ag Retailer, and present a case for adding it to a business plan.
In addition, for the last three years, we have also had a unique opportunity to come into the indoor Ag Complex in March and do a planting demonstration for students from several of the Ag Classes. This gives them a chance not only to see how some of the different parts of the planter work in a slow-motion setting vs. in the field in the middle of battle. It also gives us an opportunity to do things we wouldn’t do out in the field. Things like creating extreme compaction, or raising the closing wheels to leave an open furrow to give us the chance to study things like sidewall compaction. We try to showcase things we don’t take time to do when we are planting the crop. It also lets us illustrate how things in the real world don’t happen the same way they do on a test stand. For instance, how seed placement differs in the ground compared to the sensor in the seed tube.
And while our ACS and RD team gets to be the people who are lucky enough to experience these things first hand with the students, fortunately, we all get to benefit from these opportunities. These students are your sons and daughters that are going to come home and challenge the status quo on your operation. They will want to put new things into play that they learned about or witnessed at college, and challenge our “conventional” thinking. These young people are going to be going to work at Ag Retailers in all sorts of varying roles. One of them might be the person who is out on your field in a year or two running the application machine or working with you as your trusted advisor. A few years down the road, one of them might even be a genetics expert that breeds the next big thing into our crops.
Regardless of who these students are today, we all have to remember that we need to take time out of our busy schedules to make time for events like those I help with at NECC. These events don’t replace the classroom education that our students get, they enhance it in ways that are hard to explain. My message to you is that this isn’t just a reminder or call to action for Equipment Dealers, Ag Retailers, or Seed Companies. Your local Community Colleges and High Schools have programs for you to get involved in where you can help students learn as well. Whether you are a grower, a rancher, a seed rep, or anybody else that is reading this, there is an educator and a “classroom” out there that can use you. I have gone into Junior High math classes and illustrated how geometry is useful in the real world and helped FFA students develop speeches. There are opportunities for each and every one of us to help prepare the next generation to be part of agriculture. Sometimes, we just need to remember to make those openings a priority.