Agreement brings in high tech field equipment for educational use

EAU CLAIRE, Wis, February 14, 2012 – John Deere has made its first-ever agreement with an educational institution for use of some of its most high-tech field equipment for educational purposes. Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), headquartered in Eau Claire, Wis., announced the agreement with local John Deere dealer Tractor Central Feb. 5.

Forming partnerships with educational institutions is not new for John Deere. However, the agreement with CVTC marks the first time John Deere and Tractor Central have made such an agreement involving large field equipment, such as tractors, sprayers, planting equipment and combines.

For CVTC, it is the second such agreement.

“We were first able to add precision agriculture to our curriculum in 2012 thanks to a partnership with Value Implement of Menomonie and Case IH,” said CVTC Dean of Industry, Agriculture and Energy Aliesha Crowe.  “In our first agreement with Value, we received almost $1 million in equipment for use in the 2012 growing season. That agreement continues today.”

Now CVTC students will have access to the latest John Deere equipment as well. The agreement benefits all parties.

“We will provide equipment to CVTC for educational use,” said Tractor Central Sales Manager Randy Robinson. “We met with instructors and put together a list of equipment they could use for their classes. It is the latest, most high-tech equipment.”

“Instructors will be incorporating the technology that John Deere has integrated in its equipment into the program curriculum. The students will gain hands-on experience with the technology they will use in their employment and on their own farms,” said Crowe.

“We are trying to expose the students to the latest equipment,” said Robinson.

Tractor Central and John Deere benefit from the program because they may want to hire some of those CVTC students after they graduate, and they will already be familiar with the equipment. Also, the students who become producers themselves will be the buyers of farm equipment in the future.

Tractor Central, which has 10 locations, including area dealerships in Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Durand, Mondovi and Granton, will still be able to sell the equipment, rotating it out of the program and replacing it with new models, before the loaned equipment depreciates due to use. 

Crowe explained that the partnership will allow CVTC to continue doing what it does best,  providing students with hands-on education in conditions they will see in real-world situations.

“Students enrolled in our program are each assigned their own plat of land. They prepare it, plant it, manage it and harvest it,” she said.

And they do so by following principles of precision agriculture.

“The goal of precision agriculture is to optimize returns while preserving resources,” Crowe said.

Kori Richter, integrated solutions manager for Tractor Central, said the agreement not only covers heavy field equipment, but also 14 licenses for the Apex software that works with the equipment and helps the user manage the land. With the software, students can pre-load guidance lines – the GPS coordinates for the equipment to follow in the field.

“When they pull into a field, the computer will know what field they are in,” Richter said.

And the computer can track harvest yields by row, showing results from different management practices that may have been used within a single field.

From inside the cab of the tractor or from a computer back at the office, users can track equipment maintenance needs, weather conditions and forecasts, and amounts of chemicals applied. It’s all part of a precision agriculture management strategy.

Richter pointed out that one of the most important pieces of equipment offered through the program is the smallest – an XUV Gator, which is sort of a heavy-duty four-wheeler. Because the Gator has the same computer capabilities, students will be able to learn the technology using small equipment in a parking lot before moving to the big equipment in the field.

The agreement was finalized in December.

“Our first equipment will be delivered in the spring, when we start our planting,” Crowe said.

While the agreement is the first of its kind for John Deere, it will not be unique for long.

“We are already working on similar agreements with other technical colleges,” said Tractor Central Marketing Manager Gene Schlosser.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.