Ivy Tech Community College Wabash Valley has received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The funding will support a new precision agriculture center of excellence, which will be housed at the Vigo County Industrial Park. The school’s Diesel Heavy Truck Technology program will also be located in the facility, which was previously a doughmaking building.
Chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel says the programs "will fill a workforce gap in Indiana. This EDA grant moves us one step closer to making this dedicated space a reality for a successful regionally-focused Precision Ag and Diesel workforce training initiative."
The funds will be used to retrofit the space for training involving geospatial technology for crop planting, fertilization and harvesting. The program received Indiana Commission on Higher Education approval in 2015.
Ivy Tech says the average age of farm workers in Indiana is nearing 60 and the need to train the next generation farm work force is great. School of Technology Dean David Will says "one area in agriculture that this is occurring is in geospatial technology to drive efficiencies in crop planting, fertilizing and harvesting. It is estimated that 95 percent of current farm implement equipment sold today comes with GPS/GIS pre-loaded from the manufacturer. But, all members of the agriculture sector are not equipped to utilize this new technology." Using the technology, Will says, could save farmers money on fertilizer and reduce environmental run-off with more accurate application totals.
Ivy Tech will offer three, 34 credit hour technical certificates through the program: Agriculture Equipment Service Technician, Precision Agriculture Specialist and Precision Agriculture Technician. You can connect to more about the Precision Ag program at Ivy Tech Wabash Valley by clicking here.