Innovation & Applied Technology
Improving Food & Water Conservation Practices
Northeast’s Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence will serve as the nexus of Nebraska’s farms, ranches, businesses, and communities while integrating agriculture science and innovation.
Here, students will build upon family traditions and discover new ways of exploring agriculture to create a sustainable future. As new technologies and innovation in agriculture become available, students must explore new ways of producing food and conserving water and other natural resources to continue the long tradition of agricultural excellence in Nebraska.
Incorporating modern farming techniques like precision agriculture and best practices from applied research will help producers make data-driven decisions to increase production and reduce food and water insecurity.
Precision Agriculture is one of many modern farming practices that make production more efficient.
Modern technologies can be applied to almost all aspects of farming, including crop production, livestock, greenhouses, water, and more. Soil, crops, nutrients, pests, and moisture are analyzed for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment.
Using Data to Increase Efficiency
Precision agriculture integrates technology, best practices, and predictive analytics to observe, measure and respond to variability factors. It combines data, statistical algorithms, and equipment to identify the likelihood of future crop production based on historical data.
Precision agriculture technologies:
- Include tools like satellites, drones, UAV imaging, auto steer systems, and cloud computing
- Map fields and collect core samples of soil types, nitrate and acidity levels to make best use of resources for optimum profitability
- Use data and analytics to provide detailed insights, areas of improvement, and save time and money
Training Future Farmer & Rancher Scientists
There is a unique opportunity to make astronomic gains in agriculture, but more advocates and support are needed to successfully implement new technologies to ensure success.
Northeast Community College is educating future farmer and rancher scientists to adopt new technologies, ask critical questions, and improve production processes using data to grow more on less land with fewer resources. Students often return to family farms and incorporate best practices and new technologies, extending the reach of Northeast throughout Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, the U.S. and beyond.
Conserving Resources: Optimizing Production
Using Innovative Technologies (CROP-IT)
The CROP-IT applied research project was recognized in the top ten nationally in the National Science Foundation’s Community College Innovation Challenge in 2016.
The CROP-IT used a combination of soil moisture probes and variable rate irrigation. This multi-year effort studied soil health and water management on Northeast Community College’s farm to optimize crop yield while minimizing water and energy usage.
Becoming a Vital Piece of the Economic Equation
A vast majority of Northeast Ag students (82%) go directly back to the farm and ranch or into the workforce supporting production agriculture after graduation. Northeast is primarily focused on applied research as a method of experiential, hands-on learning, engaging students and encouraging them to think critically, solve problems and adopt new approaches. These skill sets are needed by all students in agriculture, not just at the baccalaureate level and beyond.
The Nebraska Legislature included applied research as one of four tenets for community colleges when the system was formed in the early 1970’s. Northeast has strong transfer agreements with the state’s university in agriculture and has also partnered with university and extension personnel on College farm research.
USDA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Northeast Community College signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the soil health.
Northeast Community College is one of the original five colleges (now 9 institutions) to sign a MOU with the USDA-NRCS. Through this partnership, Northeast is:
- Collaborating with the National Corn Growers Association’s Soil Health Partnership & USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
- Participating in a 10-year study with 100+ different sites to test various soil health management systems designed to improve the health of soil to increase yield and profitability.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), developed the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) to call on students enrolled in community colleges to propose innovative solutions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields that address perplexing, real-world problems.
- In 2016, Northeast was among the Top 10 finalists in the nation to show their applied research project.
- CROP-IT (Conserving Resources: Optimizing Production using Innovative Technologies) is a multi-year effort to study soil health and water management on Northeast’s farm to optimize crop yield while minimizing water & energy usage.
- Fields are mapped to determine probe placement and to create Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) scripts. The probes measure the soil profile for volumetric water and transmit the data to a website that models root depth to efficiently manage irrigation.
Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence
The Nexus of Innovation
Northeast Community College is educating future farmer and rancher scientists to adopt new technologies, ask critical questions, and use data to grow more on less land with fewer resources.
The Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence integrates innovation, applied research, and hands-on experience to help students develop technical skills to interpret, analyze, and use data to improve production processes. Learn more about how you can help our students succeed. Invest in the Nexus of Innovation.