Tomorrow’s farmers get hands-on with drones

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Drones could be seen in the sky over Champaign’s Parkland College Thursday morning as agriculture students were getting schooled in new farm technology.

“I think it’s going to be a major part of the Ag Industry later on down the road,” said student Travis Ingram.

He’s part of the Precision Ag program at Parkland. Their focus is on how technology helps agriculture. That includes learning how drones can change the industry. The two day course had demonstrations, safety instruction, and hands-on opportunities. Ingram thinks it’s important for his class to get introduced.

“Show them what’s out there,” says Ingram. “Even though I know some of these drones are kind of pricey and they may not use them later on down the road, but they still get their feet wet and be able to experience this type of technology and what the Ag Industry may be going to.”

Students saw how even the most basic drones could tell them where their fields need to be sprayed and help get the biggest yield. The bigger drones even come with tanks that more easily spread pesticides. That kind of efficiency is Ingram’s favorite part.

“I like the precision part of it,” says Ingram. “Getting more yield out of the land we have. There’s no more land really being made at all. What we got, is what we got. And we have to be able to make due.”

While not used often in America yet, the technology is already common for farmers in other parts of the world, like Asia. With drones being seen as what’s next, the school wants to make sure the next generation is prepared. Demonstrator Michael Ferguson says making the most of the farm land is important for the students.

“There’s probably a global shortage in food, or at least we’re headed in that direction,” says Ferguson. “This is just another tool. It’s not the end all, be all, but it’s another tool that can definitely help the single farmer all the way to the bigger corporation agriculture businesses.”

This is the first time the drones instructors have visited the class. But as the technology gets more popular in the industry, they may be back to teach more future farmers.

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