Highland Community College to Open Precision Ag Program

published February 2, 2016Highland Community College to Open Precision Ag Program

Highland Community College to Open Precision Ag Program

With the support of a federal Title III grant, Highland Community College has hired a full-time curriculum specialist and is preparing to launch a new program in Precision Agriculture in the Fall of 2016.  As the curriculum specialist, Jacob Maurer is currently developing nine courses for the new first-year hybrid Precision Ag curriculum that can be used for an Associate in Applied Science degree and also for a two-year hands-on certificate program.  In addition, he is establishing partnerships between the College and area farm equipment dealers and computer software providers, solidifying the link between computerized GPS opportunities and practical farming operations.

The new program in Precision Agriculture will be offered on the Highland campus in Wamego and at the HCC Western Center in Baileyville.  The Precision Agriculture program will offer classes that include both theoretical and practical applications with extensive lab and hands-on training. Graduates will be employed as precision technicians at implement dealerships, agronomy centers, independent precision service providers, and on the farm. Graduates can go into the field of agronomy, working as crop consultants with individual and family farm operations.

The demand for farmers to continuously produce more food, fiber, fuel, and pharmaceuticals has made it increasingly necessary to become more efficient. The need for efficiency has spurred the adoption of various forms of precision agriculture technologies. The variability in Kansas soil and other Midwest plains states demands that fields be managed as small areas and treated differently according to their individual characteristics.  The technology that precision agriculture offers collects immense amounts of data that assists in making field management decisions.

Students will learn skills in general agronomy, crop production, soils, GIS, and GPS. Individual courses include advanced precision farming hardware and software, precision farming systems, introduction to geographic information systems, and applications of global positioning systems.

Maurer came to the College from Farmway Cooperative, Inc. in Clay Center.  A native of Great Bend, he holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from K-State in Agribusiness.  He is a member of the International Society of Precision Agriculture, the Kansas Ag Research and Technology Association, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.  Maurer is located at the College’s Wamego Center and can provide further information about Highland’s Precision Agriculture program at jmaurer@highlandcc.edu or 785.456.6006.

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