STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education is not only important for the future of Australia, but also for the future of agriculture.
In her recent National Press Club address, Dr Emma Johnston, president Science and Technology Australia, highlighted the investment in research and innovation for younger generations is like a ‘trust fund’ providing long term ‘pay-offs’ for the nation.
This is evident with technologies including global positioning systems (GPS), geographical information systems (GIS), variable rate technology (VRT), soil sensors, yield monitors and remote and proximal crop canopy sensing utilising drones showing potential to revolutionise the industry.
Across the world, agriculture is in the early stages of a digital revolution, enabled by the increasing use of digital technologies on-farm and across the agricultural value chain. Precision Agriculture (PA) is a component of this, utilising digital technologies to collect large amounts of data on crops, animals and land resources at a high spatial resolution.
For the past six months, STEM has gone from classroom to paddock with secondary students from Tyrrell College and Birchip P-12 school participating in a pilot program aimed at highlighting some of the research outcomes and opportunities in precision agriculture.
Students have enjoyed the experience, explaining that they now “know new ways to find information about a crop” and “it opened my eyes to what farming may become.”
Through demonstrations of drone flight simulation and imagery capturing from local paddocks, Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) staff have been able to share some innovation occurring in the region. The program has triggered students natural interest and capability in technology.
Further classroom activities are planned in 2018 with plans to extend the program to other secondary schools in the region. For more information on this project please contact the BCG office on 03 5492 2787.