As technology changes the way farmers grow and harvest crops, Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, OR, is training students to keep pace with the evolving industry, reports George Plaven, East Oregonian.
The next generation of producers will have to know how to use things like GPS, drones and real-time soil moisture monitors if they want to get the most bang for their buck. That’s precisely what they’ll be taught at BMCC’s new Precision Irrigated Agriculture Center, which broke ground Thursday.
The project is just one part of a $23 million bond that voters passed last year. BMCC also plans to start building a new Workforce Training Center in Boardman next month, and renovate its Facility for Agricultural Resource Management, or FARM, in Pendleton.
BMCC has partnered with Oregon State University on the Precision Irrigated Agriculture Center, which will be located on the campus of OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Staff scientists at HAREC already work extensively on precision irrigation, helping farmers conserve water and fertilizer while maximizing yield.
BMCC President Cam Preus said it makes sense to have students learn precision irrigation at a facility where they have easy access to hands-on training. HAREC is already home to 15 center-pivot watering systems, most of which were donated by local farmers who directly benefit from the station’s research.