Reaping the Benefits of Agriculture
Article by Elise Bell
There is a steady demand for agricultural mechanization and business majors, boasting an estimated 99% job placement rate out of college, but many students do not realize the unique opportunities this field provides. Led by Hunter Massey from the Department of Agricultural Sciences, members of the Development of Course Material for Agricultural Mechanization Undergraduate Curriculum Creative Inquiry work to promote their college and grow the major by informing other undergraduate students of the career prospects within the agricultural sector. The goal is to entice more undergraduate students to join the major by exposing them to the technologically advanced nature of modern agriculture, an evolving field that keeps pace with the latest breakthroughs in science and technology.
Standard agriculture machinery is massive and not easily transportable. As a result, the team redesigned pieces of machinery to make them more compact and conducive to the learning environment. Although located in the lab, the team’s small-scale grain harvester simulation has been calibrated as if it were out in the field. “The whole purpose of it is to be a classroom size combine model — even though it doesn’t look like a combine it has all the sensors that field equipment would include,” Massey said. An exceptionally precise grain table allows the team to monitor hypothetical yields. Yield maps are crucial for surveying fields and determining why certain areas might produce more crops than others. Another project of note within the Creative Inquiry is their one-of-a-kind Mobile Cotton Harvester demonstration unit. The students even put a simulator screen inside the main cabin to give users an authentic cotton-picking experience.
Beyond developing new technologies for their own use, the team has been able to use these machines to inform students about the multidimensional aspects of agriculture. They have participated in exposition shows across South Carolina and throughout neighboring states. Recently, the team was invited to attend the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia where their Mobile Cotton Harvester was a crowd hit. For added attraction, team members even installed an air-conditioning unit inside the cotton picker’s main cabin to get people to check out the simulator.
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Barbara J. Speziale