Precision Ag Training Offered

Published on: January 16, 2019

NORFOLK, NE – Several precision agriculture training sessions will be offered in the coming weeks at four northeast and north central Nebraska locations by the Center for Enterprise at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. The instructor will be Lonny Mitchell, precision agriculture trainer at Northeast.

The sessions are targeted to those employed or involved in agricultural-based businesses and industries.

A three-year grant to Northeast from the National Science Foundation is providing increased training opportunities for these workers and operators, specifically in precision agriculture, he said. “Through this grant, we (Northeast) will be able to provide more of these type of events to be made available over the upcoming months and years,” he said.

“Precision agriculture is a management practice where management decisions are made at the sub-field level based on site-specific data,” Mitchell said. “This allows operators to place the right input, at the right amount in the right place at the right time, thereby increasing profit potential.”

The first training course, titled “Decisions Driven by Data: Utilize the Power of Your Data to Make Informed Decisions,” will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The class will be conducted in room 132 of the Maclay building on Northeast’s Norfolk campus and broadcast to three sites: ESU 17 in Ainsworth and Northeast’s campuses in O’Neill and West Point.

Mitchell said the training will help attendees better understand how to utilize large volumes of data, collected over multiple years, to make objective decisions in their crop and livestock operations.

Topics will include: How to spread the cost of data over multiple years; utilizing data to make objective decisions; sources of data that make a sizable impact on the bottom line; organizing data to be more easily used in the decision-making process; tools available to analyze operational data and assist in decision making; services available to help with data-driven decision making and incorporating multi-year data into the decision process.

The next training, “Precision Agriculture Implementation: The Right Way for You,” will be offered at the same four locations from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Lonny Mitchell demonstrates section control and variable rate technology used for seed placement when planting. Mitchell, who is the precision agriculture trainer at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, is shown with the Precision Agriculture Learning simulator that is used for educational trainings. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)

The focus will be on implementing the right precision agriculture practice into an operation. The session will cover such topics as precision agriculture and steps to implement the right plan; impacts of precision agriculture on an operation and purchasing new equipment versus modifying existing equipment.

The sites in Norfolk, Ainsworth, O’Neill and West Point will host a third training course from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21.  Mitchell said the purpose of the “Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI): Possibly the Best Money You Can Spend” training will be to increase a producer’s understanding and realization that utilizing VRI helps address concerns by agricultural communities about water, the most critical resource on this planet.

Focus areas include reduced water usage; increased overall crop health; reduced movement of nitrates through the soil; reduced rounds by pivot systems during the season; reduced variability in crop health across a field; and the use of soil moisture probes and water meters.

The fee for each of these three trainings is $30.

Northeast’s West Point Campus will be the location of two additional trainings.

“Understanding Ag Data and Variability” will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. In this session, Mitchell will discuss the importance of accurately collected farm data and the role it plays when implementing a variable rate management plan.

The two-part “Soil Management Technology” training will be from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays, March 7 and 14. Mitchell will discuss different types of technology that can be utilized in managing a soil profile. He also will cover the uses of EC data (a measure of the soil’s electrical conductivity), soil moisture and fertility sensors, and various soil sampling methods and technologies used in sampling.

The fee for each of these two West Point trainings is $80.

For more details on the precision agriculture training courses or to register, call the Northeast Campus in Norfolk at 402-844-7000.