When you think of fields where technology might not play a major role like it does in much of the modern world, what comes to mind? For some, it’s literally fields they think of, as in the farm fields that supply our nation’s food.
While agriculture might seem at first glance like it’s the farthest thing from high-tech that one could find, you might be surprised to learn how today’s agriculture professionals are using a wide variety of advanced technologies to improve productivity and efficiency.
From self-driving tractors to crop sprayers that use smart technologies to distinguish between crops and weeds, today’s modern agricultural equipment is taking full advantage of the advanced technologies driving progress throughout industries around the globe. Moreover, the agricultural industry is actively seeking ways to incorporate the latest technologies to spur continued growth.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at some of the ways in which modern agriculture is embracing technology. We’ll also discuss the training needs of today’s agriculture students and workers, as well as how Amatrol can help you take your agriculture training to the next level.
Nebraska Investing in Robotics & Automation for the Future
When your state university’s mascot is a cornhusker, it’s safe to say that agriculture plays a pivotal role in your state’s economy. That is certainly the case in Nebraska, where corn is king and soon rural areas will benefit from $25 million in grants as part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
According to a recent High Plains Journal article, “President Joe Biden recently announced the Heartland Robotics Cluster as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades.”
With funds from the American Rescue Plan overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), “the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $25 million in grants to the Heartland Robotics Cluster, led by the Invest Nebraska Corporation, to accelerate Nebraska’s leadership in the agricultural industry through robotic technologies and advanced manufacturing automation.”
What specifically does the Heartland Robotics Cluster plan to do with $25 million in EDA funding? Leaders say it “will revitalize the region’s rural labor force and strengthen the nation’s food supply chain. The cluster’s projects include expansion of the Nebraska Innovation Studio to create an environment for innovators from across the state and from a variety of demographics to develop automation and robotic solutions.”
Moreover, “[t]he coalition also will implement seven other projects, including robotics curriculum development; workforce outreach to provide rural areas with opportunities to work with cutting-edge technology; technology commercialization efforts in partnership with private industry; and manufacturing demonstration spaces to de-risk adoption of new technologies.”
According to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, “[t]he Build Back Better Regional Challenge places community and equity at the heart of its design. With this grant, technological development, revitalization of communities, and job creation go hand in hand. Invest Nebraska Corporation and its coalition partners will spur technology innovation in the state to fortify our nation’s food supply chain, support rural workers, and accelerate technology.”
Deere & Co. Embraces Industry 4.0
Workforce development organizations aren’t the only ones looking to advanced technologies to spur agricultural growth. Industry stalwarts are also incorporating the latest technologies into all sorts of products vital to the agricultural industry.
As noted in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Bob Tita and Jacob Bunge, Deere & Co. has long dominated the hardware market for the American farming industry with its signature green and yellow tractors and harvesters. Keep an eye on your local farm fields, because you could soon be seeing tractors driving themselves.
Deere “is investing billions of dollars to develop smarter machines that the company said will make farming faster and more efficient than it ever could be with just farmers behind the wheel.” For example, “[t]he company this year is rolling out self-driving tractors that can plow fields by themselves, and sprayers that distinguish weeds from crops.”
What is Deere’s long-term goal? “Deere aims to extend its dominance to software to make those machines—and agriculture—more efficient and productive.” How will this work? Deere’s new high-tech spray booms that extend from crop sprayers provide a great example of how Industry 4.0 technologies can revolutionize agriculture.
The boom features “computer vision technology to differentiate crops from weeds…The boom’s 36 cameras feed images to onboard computers that identify weeds and activate the herbicide sprayer. Images of weeds and crops are cataloged in a database used by all the sprayers in service, reducing the chances that a sprayer will come upon a plant that has never been seen before.”
“By 2026, Deere wants to connect 1.5 million machines in service and a half billion acres in use to its cloud-based John Deere Operations Center, which will collect and store crop data, including millions of images of weeds that can be targeted by herbicide.” Soon farmers will be looking to the cloud for more than just rain to sustain their crops.
How Amatrol Can Take Your Agritech Training to the Next Level
Of course, making technological strides in any field comes with its share of growing pains. For example, operating, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing advanced technologies requires special skills. For instructors and industries looking to train future agriculture students and workers in these technologies, it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out exactly how to teach these specialized skills.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert at training to implement a new program to teach the skills your students and workers will need to succeed in the fields of today and tomorrow. The experts at Amatrol have been working alongside instructors and industries for more than 30 years to design unique training programs featuring eLearning curriculum and hands-on industrial trainers.
As the world’s leader in skills-based, interactive technical learning for industry and education, Amatrol can help you prepare your students and workers for the future of agriculture. For example, Amatrol’s Agritech program combines the best of the basics, such as electrical and mechanical training, with cutting-edge automation training featuring robotics and a wide variety of smart devices.
Here are a few examples of the types of training tools Amatrol offers that would fit within a specialized training program focused on agriculture:
- Amatrol’s Portable AC/DC Electrical Learning System (990-ACDC1) teaches the fundamentals of AC and DC electrical systems used for power and control in industrial, commercial, agricultural, and residential applications. The 990-ACDC1 offers industry-relevant skills including how to operate, install, design, and troubleshoot basic AC and DC electrical circuits for various applications.
- Amatrol’s Mechanical Drives 1 Learning System (970-ME1) covers mechanical drive installation, mechanical drive operation, motor drive alignment, and applications of various motor drive systems. Learners will use the mechanical drives training system and the interactive online mechanical drives curriculum to gain theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills for shaft, belt, gear, and chain drives using real-world motor drive components. This hands-on mechanical drives skill-building system covers topic areas like mechanical drive systems, key fasteners, power transmission systems, v-belt drives, chain drives, spur gear drives, and multiple shaft drives.
- Amatrol’s extensive line of Automation training systems focuses on advanced smart factory, robotics, and mechatronics technologies. These training systems build automation skills methodically, beginning with basic topics like robot operation and component adjustment before moving to advanced topics, such as serial device applications and multiple station control. Advanced automation technologies are the heart of Industry 4.0 and vital parts of Amatrol programs like Industry 4.0 Fundamentals (I4F), Mechatronics, Packaging, Industrial Maintenance, and STEM. Amatrol’s automation training systems combine in-depth, comprehensive curriculum with real-world industrial components for exceptional hands-on skill-building.
If you’re ready to take your Agritech training to the next level, consult with an expert at Amatrol today to learn how you can take the first step toward teaching the skills that will set students up for success in the future.
About Duane Bolin
Duane Bolin is a former curriculum developer and education specialist. He is currently a Marketing Content Developer in the technical training solutions market.