Learning By Doing

It’s generally accepted that it’s easier to learn complex tasks when you just get out there and try it. However, few people can afford to invest the time and energy to engage in trial and error, and precision technology is no exception.

Smoothing out the bumps for technology users is the idea behind the recently opened Prairie State Technology Center. Based in Champaign, IL, the Center is a state-of-the-art facility created with the purpose of educating agriculturalists on the value of information management and the foundational applications needed to glean that value.

The Center is being spearheaded by Precision Ag Equipment Co., a company specializing in precision agriculture hardware sales and implementation services based in Arthur, IL; and Crop IMS, an independent provider of crop production services, based in Collinsville, IL. Jeremy Wilson of CropIMS, and John Fishel of PrecisionAg Equipment have led a small team of individuals working on the project, converting the vacated seed research facility into the current facility in about five months.

The facility is largely funded by AutoFarm, manufacturer of high accuracy GPS machine control technology based in Fremont, CA, and SST Development Group, a software and information management service company based in Stillwater, OK. The two companies are using the Center to train their dealers and users on the equipment and software they offer.

Facility Features

Trainees have access to GPS data collection and GIS software training in a computer lab featuring 12 workstations, a SMART Board, and ruggedized SST Field PCs at each station.

The facility features 40 cultivated acres surrounding the computer lab to accommodate hands-on training with soil sampling, the AutoFarm RTK AutoSteer system, handheld GPS data collection software and hardware, variable rate controllers, and more. Tractors and ATVs are fully equipped with precision agriculture hardware. This combination of hardware and software training gives attendees a holistic approach to the technologies being rapidly adopted in today’s agriculture.

A conference room featuring another SMART Board is used for meetings, video conferencing, and small training sessions. Several large buildings on the property can also be used for large conferences, corporate meetings, and other gatherings.

“It’s been a great asset for AutoFarm,” says Kraig Hunter, training manager for the company. “Our dealers love training at the facility.”

For more information, please visit the Prairie State Technology Center on line at www.cropims.com/pstechcenter.

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