APPLETON - A new program at Fox Valley Technical College aims to make farming as precise as possible and the school says the program is the first of its kind in the state.
This field of soybeans was planted by Fox Valley Tech Students. It's a jumping off point for the school's new program: Precision Agriculture.
"Optimize yield and decrease what it takes to grow the crops," said Instructor Jason Fischer.
Fischer said precision ag encompasses a whole host of 21st-century farming techniques. That includes self-driving planting equipment, tracking crop yield and the use of GPS and GIS systems in the fields.
"Completing maps that tell the farmer where were the high yields on the field and where were the low yields on the field and then make management decisions out of it," explained Fischer.
What makes precision ag different is that instead of treating a field as one big piece of land it treats it section by section.
"So we're gonna treat by the acre or even by the square foot differently across the field," explained Fischer.
One example is fertilizer.
"Instead of putting the same rate of fertilizer across the field it puts more fertilizer where the plants need it and less fertilizer in areas of the field that do not need it," said Fischer.
Mike Cattelino is associate dean of the manufacturing and agriculture technologies division. He told us the college was able to start this new program thanks, in part, to a structural expansion of the agriculture department.
"Expansion started here in March and we're scheduled to be ready for business in mid to late August," said Cattelino.
Cattelino told us it's important that Fox Valley Tech is the first school in Wisconsin with this program.
"The demand for precision ag really came from our business partners looking for people to fill the demand for precision ag specialists," explained Cattelino, which means there should be jobs for students after graduation.
The precision ag program will start this fall. It's a year long program -- covering planting to harvest, as well as the mechanic and business aspects of precision ag.
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