Farmer Iron

Reliable Tech Support Starts Somewhere

Where are all those tech experts of the future going to come from? Here's one answer.

As farming gets more high tech, it challenges dealers to meet your needs to keep equipment and that new stuff up and running. The industry is hard at work in the process of training that next generation of experts in GPS, RTK CAN-BUS and the rest of the alphabet soup that represents the underpinning of modern farm equipment.

Got a press release recently about a program at Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that provides a perfect example of what I mean. The school has an Agricultural GPS/GIS Technology program aimed at providing some valuable hands-on support for teaching students how to install and support these new tools.

Terry Brase, associate professor for the program, notes in the statement that he wants students coming out of the class with an understanding of electronics and how a variety of hardware works. Makes sense from where I sit as more farmers turn to GPS and precision tools to run their equipment.

Brase is working with a group of students to build an operating yield monitor, which they've mounted to a two-wheel cart. The completed system will work like a real yield monitor to calculate and display yield data - but you need hand pressure on the mass flow sensor instead of corn.

Those kinds of projects are important. They offer those students the hands on experience they need to better understand these tools at work. Students in the Kirkwood program also install air clutches and hydraulic drive into a Kinze planter, set up and diagnose a problem with a New Leader CAN-BUS simulator; install an AgLeader EZ Steer on a Deere Gator and set up AutoTrac Universal in a Deere 7810.

That's just a few of the real-world experiences these students get. And it sounds like they'll be ready to help you in the field when they graduate. The students will be showing off their work at the Ag Machinery Conference May 3-5 in Cedar Rapids. If you get to that event, check out the Kirkwood exhibit.

Good to know. This stuff is complicated, but it can't be down much, you're all relying on it more than ever.

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