BOZEMAN — The College of Agriculture at Montana State University will host a weeklong boot camp highlighting the future of precision agriculture and its potential for use in the state.

“Sustainable Opportunities in Precision Agriculture” will take place Monday, June 6, through Friday, June 10, at MSU’s campus and its research fields. Each day will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is open to the public, but priority registration will be given to MSU upperclassmen and recent College of Agriculture graduates.

The boot camp will teach attendees about precision agriculture technologies for sustainable crop and livestock systems. Attendees are expected to leave with an increased understanding and aptitude for field characterization, field monitoring and mapping, decision-making processes, and more.

Each day will include morning lectures in the CHS classroom in Linfield Hall on topics such as sensors, satellites and drones; data science; remote sensing data acquisition and analysis; soil characterization, monitoring and mapping; and digital farming. The classroom lectures will be viewable through webinars for remote participants. In the afternoons, attendees will visit research sites to gain hands-on experience with precision ag equipment for such as those for soil mapping and field variable rates, and drones with multispectral cameras. In the classroom, attendees will create a map of the field and various aspects regarding yield, acidity and more.

Courses and field instruction demonstrations will be taught by MSU faculty members from the College of Agriculture. Faculty instructors include Scott Powell, environmental science spatial analysis; Frank Dougher, environmental science geospatial sciences; Shirin Ghatreh Samani, agricultural engineering precision agriculture; Gaurav Jha, soil science precision agriculture; Jasmine Neupane, plant science precision agriculture; Paul Nugent, electrical engineering precision agriculture; and Bruce Maxwell, forest ecology and weed science.

“The courses are all connected to each other and, in order of how they affect each other, just like the actual process you would go through as a grower or producer,” said Shannon Arnold, co-director of the boot camp. “We want these students who are going to return to their farms and ranches to see these new technologies and understand the process and its flow, as well as become familiar with what this type of equipment looks like.”

According to Alan Dyer, one of the co-directors of the event, the boot camp is intended to be an intensive catch-all experience to give attendees a practical look at precision agriculture — from collecting and understanding data points to using that data to make precise adjustments and increase productivity.

Along with the boot camp will be a keynote speech that is free and open to the public. Terry Griffin, associate professor and cropping systems economist at Kansas State University will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 9, in Strand Union Ballroom B.

Griffin specializes in farm management and digital agricultural technology. He has received numerous awards in advancing digital agriculture. He received the 2014 Pierre C. Robert International Precision Agriculture Young Scientist Award; the 2012 Conservation Systems Precision Ag Research of the Year Award; and the 2010 Precision Ag Award of Excellence for Researchers Award. He has authored two patents on digital agriculture and has presented his research around the world.

The boot camp was funded by a recent grant from the CHS Foundation totaling more than $200,000. The aim of the grant is to further promote precision agriculture and educate producers and the community about its benefits. The boot camp is free thanks to the grant.

“This precision agriculture boot camp completely aligns with our land-grant mission to serve the people of the state of Montana,” said Sreekala Bajwa, dean of the College of Agriculture. “We are grateful for this generous grant to help the College of Agriculture grow in what we can offer and how we can educate our students and community members.”

Space is limited and applications must be submitted to attend. For more information and to apply, click HERE.

- by Meaghan MacDonald-Pool, MSU News Service -

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