Precision Ag program takes off at EWC

Precision Ag program takes off at EWC
Matt Scott, EWC assistant professor, precision ag takes a drone for a flight. Courtesy Photo
June 20th, 2022 | Brad Staman, EWC college relations director

Raised on a farm north of Henry, Neb., agriculture has always played a major role in Matt Scott’s life.

Scott is an assistant professor of agriculture at Eastern Wyoming College, heading up the new precision agriculture program on the Torrington campus.

Precision agriculture is “more than just pretty straight rows,” Scott said. “It’s about saving money. Margins are so thin, if you can make an extra five dollars an acre you want it.”

Precision agriculture is an approach to farm management using information technology to make sure crops and soil receive what they need for the best health and productivity. This includes using drones, GPS, yield maps, soil sampling, and more to create a management system of crops down to a square yard precision or even individual plants. Variable rate application technologies allow farmers to change the seed rate, depth, amount of fertilizer, and soil firming pressure during a single pass over a field.

“You are looking at inputs and decision making for all your crops and your land to that (square yard) level,” Scott said. “Looking at one specific spot in a field you can tell how much it costs to grow the crop on that square yard.”

With that knowledge adjustments can be made to save money and improve profitability, he said.

“I am currently going after the precision ag certification and will be finishing it up in the upcoming fall semester,” said EWC student Parker Yost of Scottsbluff. “I like the more technical side of agriculture like GPS that is used to run our tractors now and mapping out of our fields. And I think that the EWC precision ag program does a great job showing students how it all works together.”

The program at EWC is not just for farm kids, Scott said. It is for the gamers, the high-tech students, and the students who enjoy computer programming.

“You don’t have to have an interest in ag to make a good living in ag,” Scott said.

Another aspect of precision ag is in animal science.

Using GPS systems in a feedlot makes sure the right feed ration goes into the feed bunks. At the SAREC complex by Lingle, Wyo. each cow that eats from the bunk has an ear tag which is sensed when it puts its head through to eat and it weights how much each animal eats to determine the feed efficiency of each individual as opposed to making an assessment based on the whole pen of animals.

“The bottom line is getting the best return on investment,” Scott added. “Using precision ag you can increase your rate of return. You can make more money with less inputs. It’s management.”

The precision agriculture program at EWC will enable students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to incorporate precision agriculture into a business operation. With the completion of the program, students will be able to obtain an FAA 107 SUAV pilot’s license.

Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in two years. They can stack the AAS onto a Precision agriculture one-year certificate.

To register for a career in precision agriculture contact Michelle at 307-532-8230. For more information on the program contact Matt Scott at mscott@ewc.wy.edu.

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