The Mitchell Technical Institute Agricultural Technology program received a major boost recently with the donation of more than $20,000 worth of sophisticated precision agriculture equipment by several area John Deere dealers.
Led by MTI advisory committee member Dan Noteboom of Noteboom Implement of Parkston, Platte, Corsica and Chamberlain, several area John Deere dealers including Ellefson Implement of Mitchell; Fred Harr Implement of Freeman; Grossenburg Implement of Winner; and C&B Operations/Potter County Implement of Gettysburg joined together to donate a full Autotrac system including technical support, training and RTK signal. Total value of the package is more than $34,000 with the John Deere dealers donating more than $21,000 of that cost. The balance was covered with donations from Monsanto, the CHS Foundation, and MTI program funds.
The Agricultural Technology program, in its 40th year at MTI, has always been known for teaching a broad-based agricultural curriculum. The addition of a land lab to the curriculum in 2001 allowed the students to get real-life experience managing a production farm from planning to planting to harvest to market. A goal of the program was to incorporate precision agriculture to expose the students to the newest technology and to be able to use technology to enhance crop production at the land lab.
In preparing for the project, MTI instructor Larry Hostler, student farm managers, and advisory committee members, assessed the needs of the program and designed the specifications for the system. The South Dakota Wheat Growers Association provided land mapping in early 2009 with a Veris cart system to establish benchmarks for the fields at the land lab.
According to MTI Agricultural Technology instructor Myron Sonne, the direct cost to the program was $91 for the entire system. The new equipment will address the needs of students and industry to prepare graduates to use precision agriculture techniques to maximize yields. This is a benefit to both the graduates that return to the farm and to the graduates who are involved with agricultural sales and services to farmers.
Precision agriculture involves using satellite signals to instruct variable rate equipment on field preparation, planting, chemical and fertilizer application, auto-steering, combining and more.