Paul Gunderson said he “came out of retirement” to teach younger generations new and emerging ways of farming.
Now the director of the Dakota Precision Agricultural Center at Lake Region State College (LRSC), he said the economic boom is what drives the industry.
“I was raised on a large dairy farm near Ada, Minnesota in the Red River Valley.”
“First of all, my earliest memories are of working in nature,” said Gunderson. “Being out on the land, early in the morning, and arguably late at night.”
“Listening to birds and working with soil” were all a part of being a farmer.
Gunderson said his chores as a youngster included haying, cattle chores, seeding, harvesting and tillage.
Today, he said agricultural education is thriving in the right direction.
The two year degree program at LRSC is for an Associates degree in Applied Science in agriculture (AAS).
In addition to the AAS, students will have the opportunity to become certified in seven different arenas, such as CISCO and Microsoft certifications in computer sciences and in the restricted use of crop protection products like pesticides, insecticides and angiocides.
Two separate sections of precision-ag will now be offered at LRSC this coming Fall.
“My suspicion is we’re going to have students on the waiting list,” Gunderson told the Journal.
Gunderson said students will take three important things back to their homeland from the LRSC precision-ag program.
He said they will learn how to become technically equipped with new agricultural machinery, they will gain valuable work ethic by learning how to function in a multigenerational worksite and they are given the ability to function as an entrepreneur by managing their cash flow and business operations.
Gunderson explained that the heavy dose of information technology, or dealing with computers and agriculture in the modern era and the business side of agriculture are what sets this program apart from others across the nation.
“We’ve got a whole bunch of curriculum development activity underway because the program is so new.”
An example of newer farming machinery seen across the great plains is an air seeder that runs off of bluetooth technology.
“Actually, that technology is where the industry is.”
“We’re going to see producers here on the high plains, using these tools routinely, beginning next spring.”
“They’re relatively expensive but very precise, efficient and in the long run, yield much more crop than a traditional, older model of ag-machinery,” explained Gunderson.
“They provide the opportunity to put several different varieties of seed in the same field to vary the rate at which the seeds are deposited in the soil, so that the seed’s ability to sprout and to function, is consistent with the properties of the soil.”
“At the same time these tools also place the seed in such a way that the growing point is pointing up so that the plant doesn’t have to curl around then go back up.”
All of the machinery the students learn to use at the precision-ag program coincide with the science of germination– which is the amount of time it takes for seeds to reach maturity.
In previous years, there were around 40 students taking precision-ag at LRSC, but the instructor said he’s anticipating about 60 students for this Fall. “It’s way above average,” he said.
Gunderson encourages students to enroll in the precision-ag program at LRSC because it’s a part of what the economy needs for future sustainability.
“It also picks up on a whole range of emerging technologies that are not otherwise found in universities elsewhere,” he added.
For more information or to enroll in the LRSC?precision agriculture program of applied science, visit: www.lrsc.edu/academics/programs/Precision-Agriculture, or call Dr. Paul Gunderson at (701) 662-1652. Also, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The precision-ag fall semester runs August 25 to December 19. The two year degree program is a total of 67 credit hours, 20 of those credit hours are general studies.
In addition to technology farming students will learn about general agronomy, crop production, soils, soil fertility, GIS and GPS.