Passion for Teaching: Purdue’s Bruce Erickson

Editor’s Note: The PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence program — sponsored by the PrecisionAg Institute — honored the class of 2018 winners during the InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, MO, in July. This year’s winners include Bruce Erickson, Purdue University (Extension/Research Award); Nishan Majarian, Agrian (Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award); Rodney Wright, Wright Farms, Tyronza, AR (Farmer Award); and Newell Kitchen, University of Missouri (Legacy Award). Here is an up close look at Dr. Bruce Erickson, Purdue University.

Erickson_Bruce
Dr. Bruce Erickson

Bruce Erickson is all in. He loves to teach, and it’s because of the people, he says: In precision agriculture especially, they are optimists, not pessimists (sometimes to their detriment.)

It’s also because there’s a need – and that need keeps growing, thanks to the explosive pace of technology change and innovation.

“Ironically I always feel like I’m behind in my own knowledge of where I should be. My only solace is that many of my colleagues often say the same. That seems to be today’s normal, where you never quite feel you are caught up with it all,” he tells us shortly after his presentation at PrecisionAg® Professional Accelerator in South Dakota on June 27.

Erickson’s commitment to keeping up with this rapidly moving corner of ag from every perspective and educating others to the best of his ability has taken him all over the world: Brazil, India, Colombia, Jordan, and more. Sometimes, you might find him at his office at Purdue University, where he earned his doctorate in remote sensing and has been teaching ever since, currently serving as Agronomy Education Distance and Outreach Director.

“There’s a great demand for people that can put the skills together for precision agriculture. From its start precision agriculture has required a mix of agronomy, economics/farm management, and electronics/engineering. Today’s growth is related to understanding the field environment, quantifying the factors that contribute to yield, and then acting upon that – with the hope that you can reduce inputs, raise productivity, better protect the environment, and reduce the various risks along the way.  We seem to be past the point of disillusionment and in a phase of real growth.”

Today’s breakthroughs are made possible by increased capabilities with sensors, capturing information, and more easily moving it around. The stars have aligned for people to be able to make better sense of the blitz of data, including huge jumps in computer processing speeds, cloud storage, and telematics. Complex stuff – another world from his first encounter with precision in the mid-‘90s out in the field with a GPS device.

“Whether I’ve been in the classroom, whether it’s a field day, whether I’m developing an e-learning module or an extension publication, those are all forms of education. They are all things I enjoy doing. What I like to do is to take complicated information and to package it in such a way that the typical person can understand it. In order to do that you have to put yourself in their shoes, and walk their walk.”

Erickson has done just that in creating, along with several colleagues, one of the most accessible and effective online precision agriculture courses in the world, called Precision Agriculture. Participants have come from 39 U.S. states and from 22 countries. The course received the 2017 Digital Education Excellence in Teaching Award for a noncredit course, the highest award of its kind at Purdue University. In 2015, Dr. Erickson’s Agronomy Essentials course won the same award.

In terms of number of people reached, perhaps his highest impact activity is the biannual CropLife-Purdue dealership survey. The results of this survey are used by almost everyone in the precision agriculture research and business community. The survey has been cited by most of the major farm publications in North America and by academics doing research on technology adoption. The survey is also used by policy makers. For example, the CropLife-Purdue reports co-authored by Erickson have been cited by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), by the European Union Directorate General for Internal Policies, by the Brazilian agricultural research institute EMBRAPA, and by USDA.

James Lowenberg-DeBoer, Erickson’s nominator, calls him “the ultimate in ‘servant leadership.’ He quietly creates opportunities for people to collaborate, without drawing attention to himself.” In addition, “In his face-to-face and on-line courses, as well as in professional interactions, Dr. Erickson emphasizes the stewardship of all resources, including soil, water, environmental and time. He goes beyond platitudes to help his students understand the tools of precision agriculture and how those tools are used to reduce the environmental footprint of crop farming.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Excellence Awards Stories
Newell-Kitchen
Excellence AwardsChasing the Mystery Behind Soil Variability: Newell Kitchen
August 1, 2018
Newell Kitchen of the University of Missouri, recipient of the Legacy award in the 2018 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program, has worked for decades to employ technology in unlocking the secrets hidden in farm fields. Read More
Nish-Majarian-video
Excellence AwardsNishan Majarian: Keeping Software Simple
August 1, 2018
Addressing the grower's true needs and making software easy to use has driven Agrian's product development from the beginning says co-founder and CEO Nishan Majarian, recipient of the 2018 Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award in the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence program Read More
Rodney-Wright-video
Excellence AwardsRodney Wright: Better Farming With Precision
August 1, 2018
Harnessing the power of precision technology leads to year-over-year improvement in productivity and stewardship, says Arkansas grower Rodney Wright, recipient of the 2018 Farmer award in the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence program. Read More
Rod Weimer and Paul Schrimpf
Australia/New ZealandPast Recipients Of The PrecisionAg Awards Of Excellence
July 31, 2018
Since 2007, the PrecisionAg Insititute has sponsored the annual Awards of Excellence program. Here's a list of the past winners. Read More
Trending Articles
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
AmericasIntegrity Ag Group: People Over Precision
July 30, 2018
It’s not every day that this reporter walks into the office of a precision ag dealer, sits across from the Read More
farmer-tractor-tablet
Systems ManagementWhat is Digital Farming — Really?
July 24, 2018
The agricultural community has spent several years synthesizing an operational description for digital farming. In several cases, there have also Read More
Data ManagementInfoAg News: Farmobile Launches DataEngine, Streamlines DataStore Buyer Process
July 17, 2018
Busy times these days out in Leawood, KS, for ag data startup Farmobile, as they continue to – pardon the Read More
ISPA-Yoshua-Bengio
EventsHighlights from the 14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture
July 9, 2018
The 14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture (ICPA) presented by the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) was held in Montreal, Read More
Latest News
Wheelman-Pro
Industry NewsAgJunction Expands Automatic Steering Market to Smaller…
August 14, 2018
AgJunction, the autosteering company, has introduced Wheelman, a new way for farmers to automatically and accurately steer farm equipment at Read More
Drip-irrigation
Precision IrrigationFertigation as a Precision Agriculture Tool
August 14, 2018
Fertigation is a fertilizer application method in which dissolved fertilizers are delivered to the crop through the irrigation system. This Read More
Events5 Reasons You Should Attend Growing Innovations
August 13, 2018
The specialty crop market is wracked by unprecedented change: labor scarcity, water shortages, pressing demands for increased quality and transparency Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementMicrosoft, Agile Networks Detail Central Ohio Broadband…
August 9, 2018
Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. has announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet Read More
AmericasIvy Tech Opens Center of Excellence to Train Tomorrow&#…
August 9, 2018
Students interested in careers in precision agriculture equipment technology or diesel technology now have the opportunity to pursue certificates, technical Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
Corn field sunset
Industry NewsTrimble RTX Correction Technology Now Delivers Two Cent…
August 7, 2018
Trimble has announced that its Trimble RTX GNSS corrections technology can now achieve horizontal accuracies of better than two centimeters. Read More
Sentera-Gimbaled-Quad-Sensor
Sensors/IoTSentera Gimbaled Quad Sensor Optimizes Crop Health Data…
August 7, 2018
Sentera’s Quad sensor is now available in an integrated gimbal-stabilized package for DJI Inspire and Matrice drones. Featuring four fully-customizable Read More
BigDataSmall2
Data ManagementPrecision Agriculture: A Smaller Approach to Big Data
August 7, 2018
Big data is one of the most buzzed-about concepts in our industry. Rarely do we read a newsletter, attend a Read More
Grower-Retailer
Industry NewsAgworld, K-coe Isom Form Strategic Partnership
August 6, 2018
Agworld and K-coe Isom have announced a strategic partnership that will see them integrating business advisory and technology to deliver Read More
Industry NewsAgEagle Acquires Agribotix
August 6, 2018
AgEagle Aerial Systems has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Agribotix, a Boulder, CO-based drone-enabled Read More
Digital-Farming
Systems ManagementImplementing Digital Farming’s Five Major Needs
August 2, 2018
Building a house starts with a plan and then a foundation; it does not start with doors and windows. From Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Bruce-Erickson-video
Excellence AwardsPassion for Teaching: Purdue’s Bruce Erickson
August 1, 2018
PrecisionAg Award of Excellence recipient Bruce Erickson is driven to share his knowledge of precision technologies and techniques with students, as well as the larger agriculture community. Read More
Newell-Kitchen
Excellence AwardsChasing the Mystery Behind Soil Variability: Newell Kit…
August 1, 2018
Newell Kitchen of the University of Missouri, recipient of the Legacy award in the 2018 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program, has worked for decades to employ technology in unlocking the secrets hidden in farm fields. Read More
Nish-Majarian-video
Excellence AwardsNishan Majarian: Keeping Software Simple
August 1, 2018
Addressing the grower's true needs and making software easy to use has driven Agrian's product development from the beginning says co-founder and CEO Nishan Majarian, recipient of the 2018 Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award in the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence program Read More
Rodney-Wright-video
Excellence AwardsRodney Wright: Better Farming With Precision
August 1, 2018
Harnessing the power of precision technology leads to year-over-year improvement in productivity and stewardship, says Arkansas grower Rodney Wright, recipient of the 2018 Farmer award in the PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence program. Read More
Rod Weimer and Paul Schrimpf
Australia/New ZealandPast Recipients Of The PrecisionAg Awards Of Excellence
July 31, 2018
Since 2007, the PrecisionAg Insititute has sponsored the annual Awards of Excellence program. Here's a list of the past winners. Read More