Ivy Tech Community College Wabash Valley will serve as a state “center of excellence” offering a new associate of applied science degree in precision agriculture equipment technology.

In addition, students can receive certificates for work as an agriculture equipment service technician, precision agriculture specialist and precision agriculture technician.

“It is great news for the Wabash Valley region. Precision agriculture is all the new and latest technology that goes in farming. We are going to be in a position of teaching folks the technology behind this,” Ivy Tech Chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel said Friday on the Wabash Valley campus, south of Terre Haute.

“It is the only one in the state, so we are the only region within Ivy Tech that is offering this type of programming, and we will be for the foreseeable future,” Weinzapfel said.

Ivy Tech will undertake public fundraising to obtain new equipment for the degree, but students can begin core classes for the degree in the fall. 

“There are lot of basic education courses associated with precision ag that the students will be taking before they can really get into the intensive course work ... precision farming technology, crop machinery and equipment, basic electricity, GPS guidance systems, really technologically focused course work that will make them experts in this field,” Weinzapfel said.

Classes will be held at the Ivy Tech Learning Achievement Building, at 1650 E. Industrial Drive, located in the Vigo County Industrial Park, a few miles south of Ivy Tech’s Wabash Valley campus.

John Rosene, agriculture program chair at the Wabash Valley campus, said graduates will work for agriculture equipment dealers, agriculture retailers and some of the larger farms “that have a very focused, very narrow training in this cutting edge area.”

“Precision ag is the direction of the future” by increasing crop yield production, Rosene said. “We are able to vary the rates of all of our inputs. We can vary the rates of our fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides and even our seeds.”

To demonstrate, a new Case IH tractor was brought to the campus.

The tractor, costing about $230,000, equipped with precision equipment will allow a farmer to recoup that investment within five years by increasing crop yield potentials, said Justin McKain of Bane Welker Equipment, a Terre Haute implement dealer.

“It has integrated auto steer, which controls through the hydraulic steering. You will not notice any movement of the steering when engaged in the auto guidance. This tractor has the capability to steer the tractor repeatedly within one inch of itself,” McKain said.

In addition to agricultural fields, Rosene said students will have an option to continue on to a four-year degree at Indiana State University.

“The expectation is that graduates from this program, who will have a two-year associate of applied science degree, will transfer into Indiana State University’s unmanned systems program. It is not yet official, but we have talked to ISU, and they are fully on board with this and think it is a great opportunity for Ivy Tech students to jump into their four-year program,” Rosene said.

In addition to the new degree at Ivy Tech, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education this week also approved a bachelor’s degree in unmanned systems at Indiana State University.

 

<\Iz186666660308838>Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.