From education to employment

Agri-tech is more than just talking about the ‘weather’!

Using technology to help improve business practices has become common in most industries. So, it is no surprise that the agricultural sector has embraced many forms of technology to improve efficiency and workflows within the farming world.

The staff at the @BordersCollege land-based campus in Newtown St Boswells have introduced and implemented the Sencrop weather station as a training tool for both new and established agricultural workers.

College Lecturer Dave Black, along with Rural Skills Technician Bruce Winwood, were instrumental in setting up the weather station and embedding the use of the technology within their curriculum.

Commenting on the weather station, Dave said:

“As we all know, the weather has a significant impact on how farmers carry out their essential work, be it spraying, planting seeds, ploughing, or rolling fields.

“This technology allows our students to learn the importance of predicting and monitoring weather conditions to plan the most effective times to carry out these activities.”

Bruce went on to say:

“We had a few ‘connectivity issues’ setting up the system, but these were soon overcome, and we are now able to fully utilise the software and monitor many weather stations around our area.

“The system also allows us to set up alerts to warn about weather changes that need to be responded to.”

Traditionally farmers used to tour their crops every day and tended to spray systematically to avoid diseases. The cost of such operations (money, time, and environmental impact) was high.

Using the agri-tech weather station set up in the fields, the weather stations provide reliable, accurate, ultra-local data remotely. This data gives farmers their decision-making power back. It streamlines their daily tasks, rationalises the management of chemical inputs, helps them care for their crops and boosts their productivity.

Students are taught the fundamentals of setup and uses of the weather station as part of a national SQA award, Agri-Tech and Precision Farming (SCQF level 5).

The unit explores how the use of new technology (agri-tech) facilitates modern agricultural practices whilst emphasising the importance of working from first principles when using gathered data. The students investigate different benefits of technology, including data gathering, metadata, data interpretation and automation.

The programme encourages learners to consider agriculture as an advanced, hi-tech industry and explore broader employment opportunities in agriculture.

The suppliers of the Sencrop Weather Station have a mission statement to ‘help farmers make better everyday decisions for a more comfortable approach to work, better yield, and more control over their environmental impact’.

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