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Left: Northeast Community College’s CROP-IT students work with area industry to learn installation of soil moisture meters. CROP-IT is short for Conserving Resources: Optimizing Production Using Innovative Technologies, a program at the college where students work to develop a solution to regulate irrigation equipment.


Right: Precision Agriculture Trainer Lonny Mitchell demonstrates precision technology in the simulator.


The program stays on top of the latest technology, because what was fringe a few years ago has rapidly become mainstream. For instance, consider variable rate irrigation. “Ten years ago, that was pretty much a pipe dream,” says Lonny Mitchell, precision agriculture trainer. “Fast forward three years later and the technology to do that has been developed; another seven years, and we had ways of implementing that technology.”


“We’ve also adopted soil moisture probe technology,” says Burbach. In an irrigation class, students are


involved in the installation and removal of those probes. Later, in the computer lab, they’ll generate data-driven prescriptions for variable rate irrigation based on the probes’ readings and simulate the effects of various application rates on crops.


Whether they head back to the family farm, a corporate farm or to careers in agribusiness firms, Northeast’s precision agriculture graduates will be well-prepared to handle whatever agricultural challenges the 21st century presents.


Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano is a senior editor for Irrigation & Green Industry magazine.


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Photo credit: Northeast Community College


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