Precision Agriculture in Nutrient Management for Field Crops - PROJECT FILLED

Worksite Location
Ithaca, New York, with weekly trips to Cayuga County and 3-4 trips to Western New York.
Project Dates
June 1 - August 15
Faculty Sponsor
Quirine Kettterings, Animal Science
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Mike Stanyard, Northwestern New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Extension Team Keith Severson, Cayuga County Cornell Cooperative Extension
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

n 2016, the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program is collaborating with Dr. Elson Shields (Cornell Department of Entomology) and Magdeline Laba (Remote Sensing Program Leader, Cornell Institute for Resource Information Sciences, School of Integrative Plant Science, Section of Soil and Crop Sciences) on assessment of active and passive crop sensor technology and unmanned aerial systems for use in nitrogen management of corn and forage sorghum. The 2017 internship is a continuation of the project with work at the Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, NY, and three additional on-farm locations, in collaboration with Don Specker of Dupont/Pioneer, and Cornell Cooperative Extension (Mike Stanyard, Keith Severson). The applied research and extension programming on use of precision agriculture technology will benefit field crop and dairy producers throughout the state. The internship, based in Ithaca but with frequent travel, provides an outstanding opportunity for an agriculturalist-in-training to work with professionals as they interact with producers, agribusiness, research specialists and the general public.

Roles and Responsibilities

The intern will assist with the precision agriculture project (trial set-up and management, weekly flights/ scans, data collection, data analyses, data presentation) and other on-farm research projects and surveys conducted by the team. The student will have the opportunity to write an agronomy fact sheet (, and participate in various extension events, ranging from attending meetings for producers, interactions with local crop consulting firms, to attendance and presentation of the project at Cornell field days.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable. A significant amount of driving will be required, but overnight travel is not expected.

A strong interest in production agriculture is essential. Coursework and/or practical experience in field crop production, soil science, and pest/disease management are preferred. Good organizational skills. Experience with ARC-GIS preferred. A willingness to work hard, learn quickly, and professionally interact with farmers and other members of the agricultural community are essential for success in this position. The intern should be able to endure rigorous physical labor under adverse weather conditions sometimes encountered in the field. Work on-farm might require early mornings, late nights, and the occasional day on the weekend. 

Benefits and Skills

The student will gain a better understanding of precision agriculture, use of crop sensing and imaging technology, use of unmanned aerial systems, and fertility management of field crops. The student will gain skills in field data collection, laboratory analyses, data analyses, and development of extension materials. The student will also get exposure to various agricultural professions (consultants, farmers, agency staff) and gain a greater appreciation of the types of jobs he or she could be involved in beyond graduation from Cornell.