Chippewa Valley Technical College Agriscience students Adam Brahmstadt and Cody Welke couldn’t wait to get their hands on $1 million worth of state-of-the-art farming equipment donated to the school’s program.
Brahmstadt, Welke and other classmates are using a variety of Case IH equipment on a 17-acre field owned by CVTC adjacent to the Eau Claire West Campus, and on area farmland.
“It’s pretty high-tech stuff,” said Brahmstadt, 19, of Menomonie. “I really like the hands-on experience that we get with the equipment and in the class. I like the chance to drive and use the new equipment. It’s great that CVTC has this. It’s a big plus for the program and for me, knowing how to use it.”
“The program has worked out really well for us,” said CVTC Agriscience Instructor Brad Mathson. “Case IH gets the exposure, our students get to work with top equipment, and the business gets to sell practically new equipment at a discount. It works out well for everybody.”
The high-tech tractors operate in part by GPS coordinates, which allows them to almost drive themselves, Mathson said. The technology also allows proper distribution of fertilizer and seed.
“All this technology allows the farmer to have some consistency in what they are doing,” Mathson said. “Farmers get a higher yield because of it. It’s good for our students to have these types of opportunities to work with it. It’s the way of the future.”
Students take what they learn from soil testing, planting, fertilizing, and yield into an agriculture computer class to determine “what they could have changed, or should have done. They take the theory and put it into practical application,” Mathson said.
Case IH equipment being utilized this spring includes a 340 Magnum tractor, a turbo-till unit, a 24-row corn planter and 35-foot grain platform, Mathson said.
“This isn’t work, it’s play,” said Welke, 18, of Osseo. “The precision ag stuff is new to me, with the GPS and auto steer. This has opened my eyes a bit to what is out there. When you look at the size and how modern this equipment is, and how much fun it is to work with, you just can’t wait to get out there,” he said.
CVTC students have completed soil testing of the field near the West Campus, and will soon be planting. The field is near the site of CVTC’s proposed Energy Education Center. That would allow the field to be used as much for demonstrations as it would for students’ hands-on learning.
Students will also do corn crop testing, and marketing students will develop a marketing plan on how to sell the harvested crop.
CVTC Agriscience students also work about 400 acres of area farmland.
“Farmers donate land and we are like the custom operator,” Mathson said. “They put the supplies up while we supply the labor and equipment. It works out well for us all.”
Brahmstadt, Welke, and another Agriscience student, Ashley Swan, 19, of Ogema, each said they will encourage others to participate in the CVTC program.
“It’s nice to have all the newer equipment available, but there is so much more to the program than just that,” Swan said. “I’d certainly tell others to get involved with this. It helps in so many areas of ag.”
CVTC also has the use of two Case IH skid steers, primarily used for its Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program, and various CVTC projects.
“Because this is a newer technology, we as a technical college could not invest in that modern of implements without it costing a sizeable amount of money,” said Aliesha Crowe, Dean of Energy, Agriculture and Technology at CVTC. “We enjoy and value the partnership of Case IH and the local implement dealerships. Having this equipment allows us to offer students the most modern equipment and expert training.”
The partnership between Case IH, several of its local dealers, and CVTC is proving to be rewarding for the businesses, their customers, and CVTC students.
Case IH has donated the use of an estimated $1 million of high-tech equipment to CVTC each of the past two years. In exchange, local Value Implement dealerships with Case IH agreements get a discount to sell the used equipment, resulting in savings for customers.
“The plan is to get Case IH visibility, out in the field, and to get the next generation of farmers in the latest, greatest technology out there,” said Jerry Olson, manager of Value Implement of rural Menomonie.
“It has been a good marriage between Case IH and CVTC, helping us get our product out there and helping the agriculture program at CVTC,” Olson added. “It’s worked out great in all aspects.”
Area Value Implement stores, including Menomonie, Osseo, and Arcadia, receive a discount from Case IH for servicing and monitoring the equipment. That discount is passed on to customers when the equipment returns to the dealerships.
“Students get to do precision farming with newest equipment, we get to give discounts and the customers benefit,” Olson said.
Bob Salonek, chief operating officer for Value Implement, said the partnership with CVTC has been rewarding.
“We get to have these young future farmers in the most highly-advanced technical equipment out there, where they are able to learn precision farming. It helps them know what tools are available and it helps us with visibility and sales, where customers get this equipment at a discount,” he said.
“We really enjoy working with CVTC and look forward to a long relationship with them,” Salonek said.