PROJECT CLOSED: Precision Agriculture Educational Curriculum Development for Field Crops

Worksite Location
Ithaca, NY
Project Dates
June 1, 2020 to Aug 15, 2020
Faculty Sponsor
Jeff Perry, Senior Lecturer, Development Sociology
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Quirine Ketterings, Professor, Animal Science
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Janice Degni, South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team, CCE and Jodi Putnam, Northwestern NY Dairy,Livestock, Crop Team, CCE
Stipend
$5,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

In February of 2018, staff of the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program in collaboration with counterparts at the University of Missouri and the Iowa Soybean Association, developed a protocol for yield monitor data cleaning. The protocol was needed as raw yield monitor data contains errors related to the technology and its use in the field, and without data cleaning, reported yields can be off by 1-2 tons/acre and 5-10 bu/acre. When data cannot be trusted, farmers are unlikely to base management decisions on such data, so implementation of a data cleaning protocol is essential. Training sessions with professionals this past year have illustrated the need for curriculum development for teaching of the protocol. In addition, we have been approached by a high school agriculture teacher for curriculum that would allow their students to learn about yield data collection and cleaning. Thus, the proposed CCE internship project is to develop high school and extension curriculum for corn yield data collection and processing, as well as the generation of farm-specific yield summaries. The 2019 internship allows the student to learn about field-crop based precision agriculture in general, understand yield monitoring equipment, data collection and data cleaning, and learn about and implement educational approaches that facilitate learning for students and certified crop advisors. In addition to working on the project, the student will also get exposed to all other aspects of precision agriculture research in our team including data collection with active crop sensors, unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones), satellite imagery, and field-based soil and plant sampling and analyses, and get greater insights in teaching an agricultural curriculum at a high school through collaboration with two high schools, one in western and one in central NY.

The internship, based in Ithaca, will include travel to meet with field crop educators and certified crop advisors statewide with more frequent travel to western and central NY for work with CCE and local high school agriculture teachers.

Roles and Responsibilities

The intern will work with both faculty advisors, CCE advisors, and high school agriculture teachers in western and central NY, and take the lead in development of educational approaches and materials, working with technical support within the NMSP (computer science and data analyses, agronomy and soil science), with educational support from Jeff Perry (agricultural education), and with support from Janice Degni and Jodi Putnam at CCE (agronomy, farm advising). The student will have the opportunity to write an agronomy fact sheet of relevance to the curriculum (http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/guidelines/factsheets.html), and participate in various extension events, ranging from attending meetings for producers, interactions with local crop consulting firms, attendance at the 2020 New York Association of Agricultural Educators Professional Development Conference and attendance at Cornell field days.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement. A significant amount of driving will be required. A strong interest in production agriculture and agricultural education is essential. Coursework and/or practical experience in field crop production, soil science, and pest/disease management are preferred. Good organizational skills. A willingness to work hard, learn quickly, and professionally interact with crop advisors is essential for success in this position.

Benefits and Skills

The student will gain (1) a better technical understanding of precision agriculture, use of yield monitor equipment, data processing, and imaging technology; and (2) skills in educational approaches and educational curriculum development. The student will also get exposure to various agricultural professions (agricultural teachers in high schools, consultants, farmers, agency staff).