Managed Agronomy Precision Systems, the name of a class in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Agriscience program, is a term familiar to the professionals at Tractor Central.
Tractor Central, the John Deere dealer in the Chippewa Valley, specializes in providing high-technology precision equipment to help farmers manage their operations. Now, thanks to a first-ever agreement of its kind involving John Deere, CVTC students in those classes will have use of some of the top-of-the-line John Deere field equipment, provided by Tractor Central.
Forming partnerships with educational institutions is not new for John Deere. However, the agreement with CVTC marks the first time John Deere and Tractor Central have made such an agreement involving large field equipment, such as tractors, sprayers, planting equipment and combines.
The agreement benefits all parties.
“We will provide equipment to CVTC for educational use,” said Tractor Central Sales Manager Randy Robinson. “We met with instructors and put together a list of equipment they could use for their classes. It is the latest, most high-tech equipment.”
“Instructors will be incorporating the technology that John Deere has integrated in their equipment into the program curriculum. The students will gain hands-on experience with the technology they will use in their employment and on their own farms,” said Aliesha Crowe, dean of Industry, Agriculture and Energy at CVTC.
“We are trying to expose the students to the latest equipment,” said Robinson.
Tractor Central and John Deere benefit from the program because they may want to hire some of those CVTC students after they graduate, and they will already be familiar with the equipment. Also, the students who become producers themselves will be the buyers of farm equipment in the future.
Tractor Central, which has 10 locations, including area dealerships in Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Durand, Mondovi and Granton, will still be able to sell the equipment, rotating it out of the program and replacing it with new models, before the loaned equipment depreciates due to use.
Crowe explained that the partnership will allow CVTC to continue doing what it does best, providing students with hands-on education in conditions they will see in real-world situations.
“Students enrolled in our program are each assigned their own plat of land. They prepare it, plant it, manage it and harvest it,” she said.
And they do so by following principles of precision agriculture.
“The goal of precision agriculture is to optimize returns while preserving resources,” Crowe said.
Kori Richter, integrated solutions manager for Tractor Central, said the agreement not only covers heavy field equipment, but also 14 licenses for the Apex software that works with the equipment and helps the user manage the land. With the software, students can pre-load guidance lines – the GPS coordinates for the equipment to follow in the field.
“When they pull into a field, the computer will know what field they are in,” Richter said.
And the computer can track harvest yields by row, showing results from different management practices that may have been used within a single field.
From inside the cab of the tractor or from a computer back at the office, users can track equipment maintenance needs, weather conditions and forecasts, and amounts of chemicals applied. It’s all part of a precision agriculture management strategy.
Richter pointed out that one of the most important pieces of equipment offered through the program is the smallest – an XUV Gator, which is sort of a heavy-duty four-wheeler. Because the Gator has the same computer capabilities, students will be able to learn the technology using small equipment in a parking lot before moving to the big equipment in the field.
The agreement was finalized in December.
“Our first equipment will be delivered in the spring, when we start our planting,” Crowe said.
While the agreement is the first of its kind for John Deere, it will not be unique for long.
“We are already working on similar agreements with other technical colleges,” said Tractor Central Marketing Manager Gene Schlosser.