In today’s rapidly evolving agricultural landscape, many farmers have begun to utilize precision agriculture, an innovative approach that integrates computer technology with farm equipment, including drones and satellite applications.
Precision agriculture programs offer farmers advanced technologies and data-driven insights to revolutionize farming practices. By collecting precise data on soil conditions, crop health, and weather patterns, farmers can optimize their practices and improve efficiency. This leads to cost savings and increased productivity. Precision agriculture also enables targeted crop management, allowing farmers to tailor irrigation, fertilization, and pest control strategies to specific areas of their fields, resulting in improved yield and quality.
Cost savings are a significant advantage of precision agriculture as well. By optimizing the use of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and water, farmers can reduce expenses. Additionally, early detection and management of crop issues prevent potential losses, leading to substantial financial savings. These cost-effective practices contribute to the long-term profitability of farming operations.
Moreover, precision agriculture promotes environmental sustainability. Farmers minimize the risk of water pollution and soil degradation by applying inputs only where necessary. Optimized irrigation practices conserve water resources, while reduced fuel usage through optimized machinery operations helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Precision agriculture supports the adoption of environmentally friendly farming practices.
Lamar Community College’s (LCC) Precision Agriculture program is designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement these cutting-edge techniques in modern farming. Courses within the program cover a wide range of topics, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications, satellite-based guidance systems (GNSS), auto-steer technology, unmanned aircraft systems (drones), and the installation and troubleshooting of various precision agriculture hardware. Students gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and software used in precision agriculture, preparing them for real-world challenges in the field.
Garret Stecklein, a dedicated student in LCC’s Precision Agriculture program, exemplifies the program’s commitment to cultivating future farming leaders. Garret graduated from LCC in May with his Associate of General Studies degree in Agriculture. In the fall, he will continue pursuing his passion for farming with emerging technologies through LCC’s Precision Agriculture Certificate program.
Garret’s interest in Precision Agriculture began during his summer as a crop scout on a farm in Sublette, Kansas. During this time, he was introduced to the possibilities of precision agriculture while assisting a farmer using precision farming strategies. Garret collaborated with the farmer to formulate action plans for managing weeds and treating pests. Furthermore, his interest in the navigational aspects of precision agriculture was further expanded after his father shared a YouTube video about using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in farming.
Although he still needs to complete his Precision Agriculture Certificate, Garret has already been able to apply the skills he has acquired at LCC in his current job at an equipment company. He installs and troubleshoots guidance systems there, utilizing the valuable expertise he obtained through his education at LCC.
For any student considering the Precision Agriculture program at LCC, Garret offers a heartfelt advice: “If you’re interested in it, you need to do it. Precision agriculture is a growing field in need of people who can keep up with advancing technology as it comes out.”
To farmers who may be considering implementing precision agriculture into their farming practices or who might be skeptical of this farming method, Garret shares his perspective: “It’s incredible the things that farmers are able to do with precision agriculture, and they need to be seeking out professionals and technicians to help them incorporate the latest technology into their farming strategies.’
In addition to his academic pursuits, Garret actively shares his knowledge and passion for agriculture through his initiative, the Eastern Plains Podcast. Garret’s firsthand experience and passion for sharing agricultural insights testify to the program’s success in fostering talented individuals ready to embrace the challenges of the future.
“Lamar Community College is committed to providing relevant, high-quality, high-skill career and technical education that will produce a qualified and skilled workforce ready to support and help grow local and regional industries,” says Dr. Reyes, President of Lamar Community College. By enrolling in LCC’s Precision Agriculture program, aspiring students position themselves for rewarding careers that leverage advanced technologies, enabling them to shape the future of farming while embracing the challenges ahead.