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.

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

2 comments on “Passion for Teaching: Purdue’s Bruce Erickson

Excellence Awards Stories
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
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
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
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
October 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
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
Latest News
Robotics/Labor SaversPrecision Agriculture in Specialty Crops: Labor, Cost S…
October 9, 2018
Agriculture is going through an equivalent of what the computer industry went through in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when Read More
EventsA Crazy 2018 is Why We Need Growing Innovations
October 8, 2018
If you’re here you likely have received a special Meister Media Worldwide code to get $100 off your registration to Read More
AmericasConBAP 2018 Highlights Precision Agriculture in Brazil
October 8, 2018
The Brazilian Congress of Precision Agriculture 2018 (ConBAP 2018) was held October 2-4 in Curitiba, Paraná. Held every two years, Read More
Service ProvidersGar Tootelian: Putting Ag Technology to the Test
October 8, 2018
In California’s Central Valley, a diverse crop market in which Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) are the dominant players when it Read More
Spray Drift
Decision Support SoftwareHow Technology Can Help You Prevent Spray Drift
October 8, 2018
Spray drift. News articles about damage caused by spray drift seem to pop up regularly, almost as daily reminders, during Read More
UncategorizedTopcon, Kansas State Make it Official: Establish Resear…
October 4, 2018
Today, Topcon Agriculture and Kansas State University announced a comprehensive partnership, according to a news release issued by the University. Read More
AmericasIvy Tech Students, Helena Collaborate on ‘The Fie…
October 4, 2018
Students in Ivy Tech Community College’s Agriculture and Precision Agriculture programs have had an interesting opportunity this growing season to Read More
Industry NewsSDSU to Host Precision Ag Bowl, Raven Facility Grand Op…
October 3, 2018
South Dakota State is the first university in the nation to offer a four-year degree in precision agriculture. This Saturday, Read More
Industry NewsProagrica: Connectivity in the Agriculture Supply Chain…
October 2, 2018
A recent survey of US ag retail businesses from Proagrica showed that future-proofing is one of the dominant pain points Read More
Business ManagementMFA: Mainstreaming Precision Ag Services
October 1, 2018
There’s no ironclad approach to building business through a precision program offering. There are as many nuanced approaches to success Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
October 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
corn field
Industry NewsMFA Inc. Announces Expanded Partnership with Adapt-N
October 1, 2018
MFA Inc. has announced an expanded partnership between its Precision Advantage, Crop-Trak, and Nutri-Track service platforms and the Adapt-N nitrogen Read More
Industry NewsIBM to Launch Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture
October 1, 2018
When you think about artificial intelligence (AI), you probably don’t imagine using it for a farm. IBM is bringing data Read More
Decision Support SoftwareNew Software Monitors Water Risk for California Agricul…
September 28, 2018
AQUAOSO Technologies PBC, a software company that helps customers identify, understand, and monitor water supply risks has officially unveiled their Read More
Data ManagementSatellites Key in Providing Agriculture’s Next Generati…
September 27, 2018
With a range of extreme-weather events currently playing out across the globe, from floods on the east coast of the Read More
AmericasArgentina Bets on $600m Satellite to Boost Agriculture …
September 25, 2018
Argentina is launching a new microwave imaging satellite to monitor natural disasters and soil moisture, in a long-term bid to Read More
AmericasFarmers Edge Announces New Retail-Facing Precision Ag P…
September 25, 2018
Farmers Edge announced the launch of a new solution designed exclusively for agricultural professionals to enhance their relationships with customers Read More
EventsAgricultural Robotics Take Center Stage at FIRA 2018
September 24, 2018
The future of agricultural innovation will continue to rely heavily on collaboration and exchange of ideas among all industry players. Read More