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Revolutionizing Agriculture: Students Harness Technology to Drive Farm Business Profitability

In the Spring 2024 semester, SUNY Cobleskill students dove into the intersection of technology and agriculture, learning how advancements in precision agriculture tools can significantly impact farm business profitability. In Agricultural Production Management, under the guidance of faculty members Dr. James Hardin (Agricultural Engineering) and Stephen Weir (Agricultural Finance and Management), students embarked on revolutionizing traditional farming practices through data and tech.

“I don’t like calling it ‘Precision Agriculture’ because it is becoming just ‘Agriculture,’” said Dr. Hardin. “It’s what farmers need to use and are increasingly adopting in their farm management practices. This points to the ever more essential role technology plays in modern agriculture and in shaping the future of the industry.”

The semester-long course blends agricultural business management and finance with cutting-edge technology, providing students with hands-on experience and insights in both domains. Weir remarked, “People in the industry also recognize that technology is and always has been the driver in agriculture. This course is designed for students who want to be tech and management-ready when they enter the field.”

As part of their coursework, students were tasked with creating comprehensive crop plans for the college farm, a sprawling 450-acre operation specializing in corn silage and haylage production to support its 130-milking cow dairy herd. Leveraging real farm data collected using state-of-the-art equipment, including soil fertility levels, input application data, and harvest yields, students employed advanced crop enterprise analysis and whole-farm budgeting techniques to optimize production efficiency and financial performance.

The Agricultural Production Management course is offered each spring semester as part of the Agricultural Business Management degree program as the College prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly evolving agricultural landscape. The College also offers a minor in Precision Agriculture, totaling eleven credits in the deployment, use, and support of precision agriculture tools and associated management applications.

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