In an effort to help farmers grow more food in an era where precision agriculture is growing, Olds College has announced a techgronomy diploma course aimed at giving producers the best of both the agronomy and technology worlds.
James Benkie is the Dean of Program Development for Agriculture Technology at the college.
”Students will effectively have a deep understanding of both of those disciplines and effectively support producers in solving some of their grand challenges on farm and enable a lot of that decision making that happens through technology and in data they collect with the technology,” says Benkie.
The college has done a lot of work to get to this point.
He says two years ago the college under-took a major study to see where the college’s priorities should be.
”Bringing together industry groups into two paths I guess you can call it really trying to identify the gaps that are currently exisiting in the ag industry and the second one is to really about pushing out the skill sets that are necessary in the future for agriculture.”
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Benkie says this led to further work being done to come up with options for students.
”Over a series of workshops and focus groups we brought on some consultants to help with that but ultimately we brought in industry, including producers to help with that conversation.“
“So there was a significant amount of information and data collected with respect to that and it culminated of course with that skill development side of it and identification of skills needed.”
Benkie says this program is unique in Canada.
”A diploma specifically focussed on precision agriculture, this is probably the first if not the first of two to come out that is specifically focussed on precision ag across the entire diploma so it is quite unique at this point, but I know it is offered in others courses and other modules across the country.”
He adds even thought the program won’t launch until September 2020, they have already seen a lot of interest.
The college will start taking applications in October classes are set to start in September 2020.