Purdue University’s award-winning Agronomy e-Learning Academy is starting a certificate program for agricultural professionals seeking to grow their expertise.

Participants who complete three online courses — Agronomy Essentials, Precision Agriculture, and Nutrient Management — will be recognized as a crop professional, with a framed program certificate. Each 12-week course expands the knowledge of participants in areas of agronomy that are relevant in today’s agriculture.

“Working professionals need educational opportunities that they can fit into their work and family schedules,” said Bruce Erickson, Agronomy e-Learning director and lead instructor. “The online format of all three courses offers a way to learn that provides a structured learning environment but also flexibility.”

Beginning with the flagship course, Agronomy Essentials, which was the recipient of Purdue’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Distance Learning for Professional Development, participants are given a broad-based study of agronomy through the growing season, starting with soil study and land preparation, to planting, nutrition and crop protection, and ending with harvesting.

The second course, Precision Agriculture, is taught by expert educators from several universities. The course goes into global positioning systems and differential correction, sensors, mapping, variable-rate technology, yield monitoring, calibration, telematics, and data analysis used in precision crop production.

The third course in the certificate program is Nutrient Management, targeted to debut in January 2017. The course will delve more deeply into nutrient cycles and reactions in the soil, plant nutrition, nutrient assessment, soil chemistry, and microbiology, and the various nutrient effects and applications.

The next sessions for Agronomy Essentials and Precision Agriculture start June 22. Course preview videos and a link to registration are available here.

Past students have given Agronomy e-Learning high marks. Of all 237 respondents to anonymous end-of-course surveys over the past year:

  • 97% said they would recommend or highly recommend the course.
  • 98% agreed or strongly agreed that they improved their understanding of the subject.
  • 99% agreed or strongly agreed that the course content was appropriate to the aims and objectives.

Tim Lyon, director of sales process and product training for AGCO Corp., is a graduate of both Agronomy Essentials and Precision Agriculture.

“The Precision Ag Course was a great build to the basic agronomy understanding I learned from Agronomy Essentials,” he said. “I loved the ‘farmer perspectives’; it made it ‘real’ for me.”

Class content includes dozens of high-definition, professionally produced videos, which are embedded in additional reading with accompanying graphics, links to additional reading, glossaries and weekly five-point tests after each module.

“All of this is available to students anytime day or night, according to the weekly course schedule, through any Internet-connected device,” Erickson said. “Students can connect from home or office with a PC, at a coffee shop or while away from home on a tablet or mobile device.

For more information, contact Erickson at berickso@purdue.edu or project manager Janine Black at janblack@purdue.edu.