Man. college plans GPS, GIS training for farmers

A new partnership between Assiniboine Community College (ACC) and the Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Association (MZTRA) is designed to expand farmers’ understanding of precision agriculture technology through a two-year research project conducted at the MZTRA farm.

The $137,000 project is supported by the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI), MZTRA and Brandon-based ACC through cash and in-kind support.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) technician will develop a case study from research conducted at the farm for variable rate application and present these findings through a series of workshops to interested producers, government, non-government and business organizations, a release said. The case study will then be developed into curriculum for training seminars to be delivered to Manitoba farmers to help them harness the benefits of precision farming on their own land.

The development of the training workshops and the expansion of the availability of this research will directly improve farmers’ knowledge of GIS and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, which can be used to apply fertilizer, reduce farming input costs and help farmers improve overall efficiency. Another goal is to reduce the negative effects of over-used fertilizers and pesticides in the environment, as each variable rate fertilizer plan developed by producers will reduce the losses of these products into the environment.

The MZTRA hopes that the development of the training seminars in the next two years will speed up the rate of technology transfer from the research farm to the agricultural producer.

“The board of directors of the Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Farm (MZTRA) feels that variable rate technology will be an everyday part of production agriculture in the years to come. We feel that we have gathered a lot of good data with our yield maps, topographical maps, and soil nutrient analysis of the MZTRA farm over the last six years to make this farm a good case study farm to develop a training program for primary producers, ” said Dave Ediger, producer and MZTRA chairman.

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